The High Price of SIRF

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Stolen Identity Tax Refund (SIRF) fraud costs the United States Treasury and law abiding taxpayers billions of dollars. (Perpetrators of SIRF fraud are difficult to catch and prosecute because it is easy to hide behind the anonymity of electronic tax returns.) A story posted on tells about two men who were caught hiding behind a tax refund fraud scheme that bilked the Treasury Department of more than half a million dollars. (That was a high price for the government to pay.)

Court records show that the two co-conspirators filed approximately 266 fraudulent tax returns using stolen names and Social Security numbers. The fake tax returns claimed nearly $1.3 million in refunds. The government paid more than $500,000 on reloadable debit cards that were mailed to the co-conspirators before the scheme was discovered.

The 31-year-old and 32-year-old fraudsters both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to submit false claims. The younger man received a sentence of 57 months and three years of supervised release, while the older man received a longer prison sentence for being a felon in possession of a fire arm. He received a 70-month jail term, plus three years of supervised release. They will both pay $544,846 in restitution for their criminal acts.

The story does not state from where or how the criminals obtained their victims’ names and Social Security numbers. (When you pause to think about how many places personal information is kept, it becomes a bit scary.)

If you haven’t already made an effort to protect your personal information, now is the time to begin. It is important to remember to protect your ATM and credit cards, meticulously check over bank and credit card statements each month, request a credit report at least once a year and subscribe to an identity theft protection service if possible. These efforts will go a long way towards preventing criminal efforts from having an adverse affect on your credit record and your life.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Two Sent to Prison in Stolen ID Tax Refund Fraud Scheme,” published by on September 24, 2014.

Linus Davar Rigs, 32, and Nowell Joshua Cousin, 31, both of Houston, have been handed their sentences as a result of filing fraudulent tax returns using identification information that was either stolen or used without lawful authority, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Riggs and Cousin pleaded guilty on March 17 and March 10, 2014, respectively, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to submit false claims to the U.S. Cousin was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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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.