The Glass Half Empty

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I am sure you are familiar with the mantra? ”Think of the glass as half full, not half empty.’? A positive outlook is often prescribed for making the best out of a less than satisfactory situation. But, how can one make the best out of being caught for committing fraud? Today’s Fraud of the Day from Tampa Bay Online looks at the case of a Florida woman who is looking at a pretty empty glass and a long, thirsty period in jail.

The art of stealing personally identifiable information (PII) has become common in fraud related crimes. Tampa, Florida, in particular, has seen a large spike in the amount of identity theft-related tax refund fraud within the past few years. (Honestly, the entire U.S. has seen a huge spike.)<em? Officials recently sentenced a Tampa resident for her participation in a year-long fraud scam that cost the federal government (that’s you, the taxpayer!) nearly $119,000. An investigation revealed documents proving that the fraudster not only filed a false tax return in her own name, but also stole the identities of others and used them to file false tax returns in their names. (I guess once she realized she could only file once under her name, she would need the identities of others to keep stealing.)

Our criminal’s glass full of fraud slowly emptied its hope, as it filled with charges and sentencing. In February 2012, she was indicted on charges of filing a false tax return, six counts of theft of government property (tax refunds), three counts of making false claims (fraudulent tax returns) and three counts of identity theft. In return for her illegal activity, the judge sentenced her to five and a half years in prison (42 months for theft of government property and 24 months for aggravated identity theft). She also was ordered to pay $118,882.63 in restitution. (This is a pretty hefty sentence compared to some I’ve seen lately – I am glad the judge laid out what was deserved.)

There is nothing like a tall glass of fresh squeezed Florida orange juice, and a side of fraud sentencing. Unfortunately, this Florida woman won’t be seeing the glass half full for a while. Bottoms up.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Tampa Woman Sentenced to 5 ½ Years for Tax Fraud, ID Theft,” and published by Tampa Bay Online on December 13, 2012.

TAMPA — A 47-year-old Tampa woman was sentenced Wednesday to 5½ years in prison after pleading guilty in a federal tax fraud case.

Belinda Brooks must serve 42 months for theft of government property to be followed by 24 months for aggravated identity theft, Robert E. O’Neill, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, said in a news release.

 

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.