Waiting by the Mailbox

21610268 - woman taking some letters from mailbox

The old school method for receiving tax refunds used to involve waiting patiently for the mailman to drop it off in the mailbox. Today, the most efficient and safe way to receive a tax refund is via a direct deposit into your bank account. (This delivery method cuts out the possibility of having your coveted refund stolen right out from under you.) A man from South Florida stole a U.S. Treasury refund check from an unsuspecting victim and almost got away with more than $133,008 in tax refund fraud.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports that today’s fraudster worked with a co-conspirator to steal and conceal the possession of the tax refund check. He then opened three bank accounts under the name listed on the check, which happened to be the administrator of a trust.

The Floridian presented corporate documents filed with the State of Florida, erroneously listing him as the registered officer of the trust. Just three days after opening the multiple accounts, he deposited the stolen U.S. Treasury check in the amount of $133,008 into one of the accounts. (It wasn’t long before he and his co-conspirator began writing and cashing checks from the bank account made payable to themselves.)

 Simultaneously, the real administrator of the trust was patiently waiting for the anticipated $133,008 tax refund check to arrive. When interviewed, the administrator stated that they had not authorized anyone else to open a bank account in the name of the trust or to endorse or deposit the check into a bank account. (Did the fraudster think that the person eagerly anticipating the arrival of the six-figure check would not go looking for it?)

The man from Florida pleaded guilty to tax refund fraud. When sentenced, he could face a maximum of 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. It’s also possible the court could impose a special assessment fee and restitution in the full amount of the money stolen. (Easy come, easy go.)

Just a word to the wise: the best and fastest way to receive a tax fund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is to have it electronically deposited into your bank account. (You can even split the deposits among several accounts if needed.) The IRS reports that nine out of 10 refunds are processed within 21 days, and you can even track it through a tool called “Where’s My Refund.” (That sure beats standing by the mailbox and giving fraudsters an opportunity to go on a shopping spree with your money.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “South Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Theft of Federal Tax Refunds,” published by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on February 27, 2018.

On December 13, 2017, in the Southern District of Florida, Carl Andre Guillaume pleaded guilty to theft of Federal tax refunds. [1] Guillaume had been indicted for the offense on October 10, 2017, [2] after agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration had arrested him on September 27, 2017.

According to the indictment, from about June 17, 2017 through September 27, 2017, Guillaume knowingly and willfully conspired with another to receive, conceal, and retain a U.S. Department of the Treasury tax refund check, with the purpose of unjustly enriching himself. They did so knowing the check to have been stolen.

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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.