Check The Death Index

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income, part of tax return form, close up shot

The Social Security Death Index contains the records of over 83 million deaths that have been reported to the Social Security Administration. The intent of the list is for government agencies, financial institutions, and insurance companies to access the file to compare their records and help prevent identity fraud. It is important to note, that the government doesn’t send out death updates to the institutions. The institutions have to go to the Death Index to find out if someone is alive or not. If they don’t, they could find themselves giving money to a fraudster, like Eunice Salley.

Eunice Salley’s grandmother retired from American Can Company and received a pension. In 2009, Salley’s grandmother died, but the monthly pension checks continued to be delivered to the residence where Salley resided. From January 2013 to December 2017, American Can Co. sent 33 pension checks, totaling $14,131, in the name of the deceased grandmother. Salley deposited these checks into one of six bank accounts she controlled. On several occasions during this period, Salley notarized and submitted to the pension plan administrator affidavits under her grandmother’s name, fraudulently affirming the grandmother was still alive.

And it could have gone on for more, except for one mistake by Salley that resulted in an audit. In 2017, Salley did not report to the IRS approximately $5,000 in income. Income that she received from the embezzled pension checks from her grandmother! This may not have been unintentional on Salley’s part. Or maybe it was. Salley also ran a tax fraud business!

In 2016 and 2017 Salley prepared and filed approximately 22 false tax returns with the IRS on behalf of clients. In addition to charging her clients a preparation fee, Salley also demanded that some clients pay her as much as 50% of the resulting inflated refund. In total, the 22 false returns sought more than $1 million in fraudulent refunds.

Great job by the Internal Revenue Service.  One questioned transaction stopped a lot more fraud from happening.

Today’s Fraud of the day is based on an article “Chicago woman sentenced to prison for fraud and tax crimes” published by Illinois News on December 27, 2022

A Chicago accountant was today sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted in court of embezzling her late grandmother’s pension checks and preparing false tax returns for clients.

According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial, Eunice Salley prepared and filed approximately 22 false tax returns on behalf of clients in 2016 and 2017 with the IRS. The statements included fictitious wages and deductions, as well as false medical, charitable and employment-related expenses. In addition to charging her customers a set-up fee, Salley required some customers to pay her up to 50% of the resulting refund. In total, the 22 false returns claimed more than $1 million in fraudulent refunds.

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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.