Identity Fraud Epidemic

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Identity fraud has reached epidemic proportions in South Florida. While the Federal Trade Commission reports that Florida had the highest rate of identity theft in the country in 2013 and 2014, Miami wins the award for having the most identity theft complaints in the United States at 316.2 per 100,000 residents. (Obviously, this is not a good thing.) A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) press release states that following a crackdown by the Identity Theft Strike Force in the South Florida region, four co-conspirators involved in an identity theft tax refund fraud scheme are now going to pay for stealing more than $100,000 from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The press release states that the female ringleader obtained the personally identifiable information (PII) of patients from a medical services provider and used the data to file 27 bogus tax returns claiming $105,313 in fraudulent refunds. Over a five-month period, the refunds were deposited into the bank accounts of multiple co-conspirators. (The fraud ring also stole the names, Social Security numbers and bank account numbers from another three unlucky individuals and tried to transfer $62,000, $92,716 and $315,482 respectively into the co-conspirators’ bank accounts.)

Three of the defendants are scheduled to be sentenced for their involvement in the scam. All are facing a mandatory two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge. The 30-year-old ringleader and a 34-year-old male co-conspirator also face a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and a maximum of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The ringleader also faces another maximum of 20 years for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Her male cohort is also looking at an additional 10 years for an access device charge. (Do the math and that amounts to a maximum of 72 years in prison for the tax refund scam leader.)

Further research reveals that this case is one of 25 being investigated by the Identity Theft Strike Force in the South Florida area, where federal charges have been filed against 42 defendants in similar cases. The recent crackdown reaffirms the joint commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement to prosecute perpetrators who steal, sell and use the PII of unsuspecting victims to commit identity theft fraud. Congratulations to the Strike Force for their continued success in the race against fraud. It looks like the united force is quickly becoming the antidote to the South Florida region’s fraud epidemic.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on a Federal Bureau of Investigation press release titled ”Three Defendants Pled Guilty in Extensive Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme,” released on July 27, 2015.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Brandi Mary Janice Stroman, 30, of Oakland Park, and Dezman Dunbar Zama, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title l8, United States Code, Sections 1343, 1344, 1349 and 1028A. Stroman also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title l8, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1349. Jerrod Dashon Bosket, 26, of Orlando, pled guilty to one count of unauthorized use of an access device and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A.

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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.