Anything Fraud Worth Doing…


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Some people simply don’t know their limits. They might be trying too hard, not knowing when to quit or biting off more than they can chew. Two fraudsters who exemplify this behavior were the recent subjects of a New Haven Register story. The story explains how a man and his accomplice attempted to commit an identity theft and tax fraud conspiracy that would have netted the pair more than $234 million in federal tax refunds.

The story notes that the fraudsters conducted their conspiracy by stealing countless identities. They proceeded to open at least 59 fraudulent bank accounts using these identities and then fraudulently filed taxes with these identities. When they received the tax refund checks, they deposited the money in the accounts they had set up and then quickly withdrew the money so they could put it in their personal coffers. Just this component of the scheme cost the U.S. Treasury more than $663,000. (But as this story shows, the fraudsters’ short-term successes only resulted in long-term unavoidably bad consequences.)

In total, they stole nearly $6.8 million from the federal government before getting caught. But, anything worth doing is worth doing right, and these fraudsters did a bang up job. The story notes that they used the stolen identities to file false tax returns 36,000 times. (I’m assuming based on their initial successes, they definitely subscribed to the saying, ”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”)

Thankfully, the federal government discovered the extent of their egregious fraud. On Tuesday, October 13, 2015, the fraudster pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay more than $360,000 in restitution for his part in the scheme. In addition to this fraudster’s two-year prison sentence, another person involved in the scheme was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the scheme. Four others were convicted of charges related to this scheme, and they await sentencing.

The ease with which these individuals perpetrated this fraud underscores how important it is to safeguard your identity. Once fraudsters have your information, they will use it. And, when it comes to tax refund fraud, you won’t know until you try to claim the refund for yourself. The fact that someone used your identity to steal your tax refund will never show up on a credit report. The unfortunate question this story can’t answer is how many more places were those identities used to perpetrate fraud?

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”New York man sentenced to 2 years for role in tax fraud scheme, identity theft,” and published by The New Haven Register on October 13, 2015.

NEW HAVEN >> A New York City man was sentenced Tuesday by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall to two years in prison for participating in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme that resulted in a loss of more than $7.5 million from the U.S. Treasury.

Cesar Penson-Perez, 28, pleaded guilty on May 15 to one count of theft of public money and admitted that he worked with another man, Julio Lara Trinidad, to open bank accounts using fraudulent identities, deposit stolen checks into the accounts and withdraw the resulting funds, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly

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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.