Big Boo Boo

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A criminal who went by the name of “Boo Boo” made a huge boo boo when he tried to steal $26 million through a fraud ring that he masterminded. The Phenix City, Alabama resident and three co-conspirators used thousands of stolen identities to commit Stolen Identity Refund Fraud. The criminal, and his three co-conspirators stole $9 million from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Today’s fraudster ran two large-scale identity theft rings over more than three years. The ring is credited with filing over 8,800 tax returns with the IRS, seeking more than $22 million in fraudulent refunds.

“Boo Boo” started off with stealing the identities of Alabama Department of Correction inmates. (He also stole employee records from a Georgia-based company.) He then handed off the personal information to an accomplice who helped file the fraudulent tax returns. (The refund check proceeds were split between Boo Boo and his accomplice.)

The accomplice needed more names, so she contacted another co-conspirator who had access to personally identifiable information (PII) on individuals through her employment with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Department of Human Resources. A special request was made for PII on 16- and 17-year-olds. (A child’s Social Security number can be used to secure student loans, run up debt, apply for a mortgage and open a bank account before they are old enough to use it themselves. By the time the crime is realized, it’s too late, and their credit is ruined.) Boo Boo used thousands of children’s personal data to file fraudulent tax returns.

It’s right about this time that Boo Boo tapped into another co-conspirator’s network at a Fort Benning, Georgia hospital. This woman provided PII on military personnel deployed in Afghanistan. (When soldiers are deployed in the Middle East, it is unlikely that they are keeping tabs on their credit records.) And, as you might expect, Boo Boo struck again by filing even more fraudulent tax returns.

The mastermind and his co-conspirators created fake tax preparation businesses and applied for multiple Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFIN), which are used to file electronic tax returns. The ring also used the EFINs to acquire tax refund bank products – such as blank checks – from multiple financial institutions. (But, it wasn’t long before the financial institutions put a stop to that.) However, Boo Boo and his crew just found another way to circumvent the law.

U.S. Postal employees became part of the scam when they began providing the ringleader with addresses on their routes where fraudulent refund checks could be mailed. The postal employees collected the refund checks and prepaid debit cards, then turned them over to Boo Boo and his team. (Postal workers received cash for their part in the scheme.)

As mentioned in the beginning, Boo Boo also participated in another Stolen Identity Refund Fraud scheme that occurred over a three-year period. In that case, he sold identities he stole from the Department of Corrections to another woman who used those files to seek $4.8 million in fraudulent returns. (The IRS paid out $1.85 million.) This woman was previously convicted and sent to prison, as were the other three female accomplices.

Boo Boo was eventually convicted by a federal jury for stealing the identities of soldiers, state prisoners and teenagers. He was found guilty of conspiracy, 22 counts of mail fraud, 3 counts of wire fraud and 25 counts of aggravated identity theft. He is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for filing false tax returns, a maximum of 20 years for each count of wire and mail fraud and a minimum sentence of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft. (Let’s just say he’s going to be behind bars for a very long time and there is no bandage big enough to heal the damage he has done.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Phenix City resident convicted of stolen identity fraud ring that sought $26 million,” posted on AL.com on November 10, 2017.

A Phenix City resident was convicted by a federal jury Thursday for stealing the identities of soldiers, state prisoners and teenagers in a scheme that sought $26 million in false tax returns.

William Anthony Gosha III, also known as Boo Boo, was found guilty of conspiracy, 22 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and 25 counts of aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. According to evidence presented at trial, Gosha ran two large-scale identity theft rings between November 2010 and December 2013. His three accomplices, Tracy Mitchell, Keshia Lanier and Tamika Floyd, have been previously convicted and sentenced to prison. Together the ring filed over 8,800 tax returns with the IRS that sought more than $22 million in fraudulent refunds. According to officials, the IRS paid out $9 million.

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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.