Correcting the Damage

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Having your identity stolen can be devastating. The effects can last for years and it can be difficult to recover from ruined credit records and the resulting debt discovered long after the heist has occurred. An article posted on WSFA.com tells about an income tax refund fraud ring allegedly run by nine women in Alabama and Georgia.

The story states that some of the victims’ personal identification information was stolen from a Georgia military hospital, where one of the co-conspirators had access to a database containing personal information for deployed military personnel. Another perpetrator had access to personal information across two Alabama state agencies, including the Alabama Department of Corrections. More victims were obtained from a call center based in Georgia. (All of these names and personal identifying information were used to file 7,000 false tax returns claiming more than $20 million in refunds.)

The bogus tax returns were filed under several fraudulently obtained Electronic Filing Numbers obtained from a federal government agency in the names of non-existent tax businesses. Refunds were processed through U.S. Treasury checks, prepaid debit cards and through financial institutions connected to the Electronic Filing Numbers.

The defendants cashed the tax refund checks at businesses located across Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky. Yet another co-conspirator collected a check cashing fee at a popular retail store for her involvement in the scheme.

Eight of the nine women charged in the case have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges including conspiracy to file false claims, aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to file false claims, up to 20 years for each wire fraud count and a minimum of two years for each aggravated identity theft count.

It’s a given that as criminals become more sophisticated, more victims will be impacted by the selfish acts of those who are disrespectful to innocent taxpayers, especially military service members who put their lives in harm’s way every day. This case sends a clear message to ”aspiring” fraudsters that the Tax Division is serious about pursuing and prosecuting those individuals who seek to steal from the U.S. Treasury. (Let’s hope the judge will punish these criminals appropriately, making them pay for their offenses and correcting the damage they have done.)

 

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”8 Women Plead Guilty in $20M Income Tax Refund Fraud Ring,” written by Hunter Robinson and posted on WSFA.com on April 1, 2015.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – As of Wednesday, Eight Alabama and Georgia residents have pleaded guilty for their roles in a $20 million income tax refund fraud conspiracy, according to United States Attorney General of the Middle District of Alabama, George L. Beck, Jr. and acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

In 2014, nine women were arrested and charged in connection to the conspiracy, eight of which were from the state of Alabama. They are accused of stealing peoples’ identities and filing fraudulent income tax returns in their names.

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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.