A Piece of the Pizza Pie

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No matter how you slice it, pizza is one of America’s favorite meals. It’s easy to make a phone call to a pizza delivery service or bake a frozen pizza pie when time is short. And let’s not forget that a cold piece of pizza in the morning is quite scrumptious. (OK, so can you tell how much I like pizza?) Well, it appears that fraudsters like pizza too. They not only like to eat it, but as mentioned in a press release from the Department of Justice, a brother and sister pair from Michigan used their pizza franchises to commit tax fraud.

The press release states that for nearly seven years, the owner of numerous pizza franchises headed up a scheme to divert gross receipts from restaurant sales and underreport wages, taxable income and payroll tax information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (The IRS lost about $200,000 through those fraudulent orders.) In addition, the owner’s sister caused false payroll information forms to be submitted. She underreported about $55,000 in wages. (That would buy a mountain of Mozzarella.)

The brother pleaded guilty to obstructing or impeding the administration of the internal revenue laws and faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The sister pleaded guilty to willfully delivering false documents to the IRS and is looking at a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

In this case, greed drove the brother and sister fraudsters to seek more than their fair share of the pizza pie from the government. For whatever reason, these two committed their illegal acts on purpose and with the intent to defraud. (These criminals deserve to pay for their crime and part of their punishment should be the no fresh pizza for the foreseeable future. That’s almost worse than serving time in prison.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on a press release titled, ”Happy’s Pizza Franchise Owner and Nominee Owner Plead Guilty in Tax Fraud Scheme,” published by the Department of Justice on July 15, 2014.

Two West Bloomfield, Michigan, residents pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan today, announced the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Arkan Summa, an owner of numerous Happy’s Pizza franchises, pleaded guilty to corruptly endeavoring to obstruct or impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws. Tagrid Summa Bashi, Summa’s sister and a nominee owner, pleaded guilty to willfully delivering false documents to the IRS.

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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.