Caught in the Act

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When caught in a wrongful act, criminals usually try to get rid of evidence that would be crucial to their conviction. If there is no evidence, they can’t be associated with a crime. The Sun-Sentinel reports on three not-so-smart fraudsters, who got caught with some pretty incriminating evidence that linked them to tax refund fraud.

The article states that one of the criminals ran a tax return business. He and two co-conspirators filed approximately 338 bogus tax returns using the stolen identities of prison inmates. (It just goes to show you that your identity is never safe, no matter where you are.) The co-defendants received $1.9 million in refunds from the federal government on 1,000 prepaid debit cards. (They were caught on video making withdrawals with the cards.)

This is where the story gets more interesting. During a raid by law enforcement at the tax business owner’s home, more than 70 prepaid debit cards and a thumb drive with more than 2,000 stolen identities were found in his bedside dresser. (I’m surprised he didn’t have a safe hidden by a fake Mona Lisa painting.) Agents also witnessed someone tossing laptop computers into the swimming pool from the second floor. (I almost forgot to mention that the seven-bedroom home had been purchased with fraudulent tax refunds.)

The business owner was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, while the other two co-conspirators got 10 years and seven years respectively for identity theft and tax refund fraud. All will have three years of probation following their prison terms. A restitution hearing also has been scheduled.

These three South Florida men were unable to stay ahead of the law. Even the smartest criminal makes a mistake now and then. Tossing a laptop into a swimming pool in front of a federal agent isn’t just a mistake; it’s getting caught in the act.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Parkland Man, Two Others Sentenced for ID Theft, Tax Fraud,” written by Wayne K. Roustan and published by the Sun-Sentinel on February 6, 2014.

Three South Florida men have been sentenced for their roles in a $2.2 million identity theft and tax refund fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said.

Frantz Pierre, 34, of Parkland, Terry Pierre, 29, and Christmanie Bissainthe, 33, both of Miami, were convicted by a federal jury Oct. 24 and sentenced Thursday, prosecutors said.

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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.