From Guard to Inmate?

tax form, pen, note and calculator

A former prison guard who moonlighted as a tax preparer could find himself behind bars after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud. (That’s an interesting combination of skill sets.)

The North Carolina man built a reputation as a tax preparer who could ensure his customers a large refund. As his tax work grew, he’d take time off from his prison guard job during tax season when co-workers and others paid him an average $117 per tax return. (Hmm … if he was a tax preparer, shouldn’t they have made room for him on the business side of the prison?)

From 2011 through 2016, he prepared about 700 individual income tax returns. At least 70 of those returns were found to be false and fraudulent—a loss of $253,000 to the IRS (Don’t mess with the IRS!).

One of the ways the man ensured his clients received the maximum refund and minimized tax liability was by creating fake businesses and filing non-existent business losses, according to the court documents. (A well-known way to prompt an audit).

The man earned at least $80,000 for his business as a tax preparer, but never reported the income (Doh!). When he filed his own tax returns, he used the same methods he used for clients’ tax preparations, costing the federal government about $40,429. Now, he faces up to three years in prison.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article in the Morganton (N.C.) News-Herald, “Ex-prison officer pleads guilty to tax fraud,” on Sept. 13, 2019.

ASHEVILLE — A former correctional officer from Burke County entered a guilty plea in federal court earlier this month.

Charles Wakefield pleaded guilty in federal court on Sept. 6 to filing a false tax return and aiding and abetting the filing of a false tax return, according to federal court documents.

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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.