Advice From Death Row

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Sheila Denise Dunlap’s son had never steered her wrong before. He may have made a few mistakes along the way which put him on death row in San Quentin State Prison, but he had never given her advice she shouldn’t follow. Which might be why she accepted a spreadsheet from him containing the personal information of 9,043 people.

Dunlap’s son advised her to file the fraudulent Economic Impact Payment claims by first using the information of the youngest adults listed. Under the EIP provision of the CARES Act, individuals who made less than $99,000 on their 2019 tax returns were eligible to receive EIP funds. Together, Dunlap and her son, assessed that these younger, college-age individuals on the spreadsheet probably lacked income sufficient to trigger the filing of a 2018 or 2019 tax return and were also likely nonfilers for eligible EIP payments. So why not grab an opportunity that someone else would miss?

Dunlap admitted that from March 2020 through July 2020 she electronically filed 121 fraudulent EIP claims. Each EIP application, regardless of the applicant’s name, listed Dunlap’s bank account number for payment of the stimulus check which is probably what triggered an investigation. In total, Dunlap filed claims for $145,200 in EIP payments.

Excellent job by the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force for investigating this case.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on a press release titled “More Than Two Years Imposed On Modesto Woman Who Conspired With Incarcerated Son To Submit 121 Fraudulent Stimulus Check Applications” published the Department of Justice on June 24, 2022

Sheila Denise Dunlap was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison for engaging in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and for aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Mark H. Pearson, and U.S. Department of the Treasury, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Special Agent in Charge Rod Ammari. United States District Judge Susan Illston handed down the sentence.

Dunlap, 52, of Modesto, pleaded guilty on March 4, 2022, to engaging in a wire fraud conspiracy and in aggravated identity theft by filing scores of fraudulent applications for Economic Impact Payment (EIP) payments, commonly known as stimulus checks. The EIP program was part of the federal CARES Act signed into law on March 27, 2020, to relieve the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon individuals. Under the EIP provision of the CARES Act, individuals who made less than $99,000 on their 2019 tax returns and those whose income was sufficiently low that a tax return filing was not required (non-filers) were eligible to receive EIP funds. EIP payments amounted to as much as $1,200 per adult and $500 for a qualifying child.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.