When Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

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income, part of tax return form, close up shot

To many foreigners, America is the Promised Land. A land of opportunity, where money grows on trees and streets are paved with gold. When Allen Levinson, a Nigerian national arrived in the U.S. in 2014 and didn’t see the money on the trees, he decided to seize it himself by creating an international tax fraud scheme.

To get the identities and personal data necessary to file U.S. tax returns, Levinson went where all fraudsters go to keep anonymity from law enforcement. The darknet. The unregulated marketplace where unlimited identities can be bought for a low price.

The returns were filed under the names of real certified accounting firms across the United States, all of whose businesses systems had been hacked and credentials for sale on the dark web! Levinson bought their information on a dark website formerly known as the xDedic Marketplace. The xDedic Marketplace was a website that operated for years and in its heyday provided access to more than 85,000 hacked servers. It was closed down in January of 2019 by U.S. and Belgian authorities, but not soon enough to prevent Levinson from filing $63 million in tax returns!

Levinson didn’t file all those returns on his own. He outsourced a big part of its preparation overseas. Outsourcing can save a lot of money, which Levinson may have done since he reportedly hired one group of workers who filed tax returns out of a boiler room in Vietnam.

Levinson recruited co-conspirators locally as well, through job placement ads and word of mouth, to collect the proceeds of the tax fraud which they sent to Levinson. Out of the $63 million claimed in tax refunds, the IRS only paid just over $5.5 million, the majority of which went to Levinson.

Great job by the FBI in their continual efforts to bust cyber schemes and bring this one to justice. And also the IRS who rejected more than approved Levinson’s fraudulent returns.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Nigerian Sentenced To More Than Six Years In Prison For International Tax Fraud Scheme” published by American Justice Notebook on December 5, 2022

U.S. District Judge Charlene E. Honeywell sentenced Allen Levinson, formerly known as Allen Ameh, to six years and six months in federal prison for wire fraud conspiracy related to his orchestration of a large-scale international tax fraud scheme, officials stated.

Levinson, a resident of Nigeria, was arrested on December 2, 2020, while attempting to enter the United Kingdom. He was extradited to the United States and pleaded guilty upon his arrival on Feb. 3, 2022.

 

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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.