Singing the Jail House Blues

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The Chicago blues style of music originated in the 1950s and made its way across the United States and over the pond to the United Kingdom and beyond in the 1960s. The music, which is characterized by lyrics that express injustice, desire for a better life, and loss, can leave listeners with a general feeling of sadness. A Chicago, Illinois man is singing the blues, not because he was performing on stage, but because he was caught running a $1.5 million identity theft and tax refund fraud scheme that ultimately landed him in jail.

The Chicago fraudster had a little help from four co-conspirators to carry out his sad performance. One woman from La Grange, Illinois and three women from Peoria, Illinois helped the man file more than 300 false federal income tax returns. (The man was responsible for preparing the tax returns that sought $1.8 million over four separate tax years.)

 In addition to his four female co-conspirators, some individuals profited from the scam by selling their personally identifiable information to the ringleader for use in the preparation of the false tax returns. (On the other hand, some victims had no idea how their information was obtained. Perhaps he purchased their info off the dark web where valuable personal information sells for as little as one dollar per record.)

The ringleader used co-conspirators to obtain “safe” addresses where the tax refunds could be delivered without being suspected. Once received, the proceeds from the bogus refunds were deposited to bank accounts and prepaid debit cards controlled by members of the conspiracy.

The four female co-conspirators from Illinois pleaded guilty to their part in the tax refund fraud scheme prior to the ringleader’s trial, which lasted five days. The 44-year-old fraudster pleaded guilty on all counts and he’s facing 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to defraud the government and up to an additional 20 years in prison for mail fraud and wire fraud plus fines of more than $3 million. Let’s not forget another possible two years behind bars and an additional $250,000 fine for aggravated identity theft.

This man’s ruse is the perfect story for a blues song. It contains the desire for a better life (albeit by stealing from others), loss (he lost the funds he stole) and a whole bunch of sadness. The government gets to take credit for bringing this man to justice. (Perhaps he’ll get a gig singing the Jailhouse Blues in the big house.)

 Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a Department of Justice press release entitled, Chicago Man Guilty of Tax Fraud Scheme; Aggravated Identity Theft, $1.5 Million Allegedly Paid in Fraudulent Tax Returns,” released on May 21, 2018.

PEORIA, Ill. – On Friday, May 18, Senior U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm found Clifton “Ty” Robinson, 44, of Chicago, guilty on all counts charged for his role in a tax fraud scheme that resulted in an alleged loss to the government of approximately $1.5 million. Judge Mihm presided over the bench trial which began on May 14.

During the five days of trial, the government presented evidence to the court that established that Robinson and others were responsible for filing more than 300 false federal income tax returns for the 2011 through 2014 tax years. While some individuals knowingly provided their identifying information for use in preparing the false returns, others had no idea how their information had been obtained. Evidence also established that some individuals sold their dependents’ information to Robinson for use on other individuals’ tax returns. Robinson used other members of the conspiracy to obtain identifying information of others and to provide “safe” addresses for the returns. Refunds from the fraudulent returns were deposited to bank accounts and prepaid debit cards controlled by members of the conspiracy.

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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.