Correcting the Damage

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Having your identity stolen can be devastating. The effects can last for years and it can be difficult to recover from ruined credit records and the resulting debt discovered long after the heist has occurred. An article posted on WSFA.com tells about an income tax refund fraud ring allegedly run by nine women in Alabama and Georgia.

The story states that some of the victims’ personal identification information was stolen from a Georgia military hospital, where one of the co-conspirators had access to a database containing personal information for deployed military personnel. Another perpetrator had access to personal information across two Alabama state agencies, including the Alabama Department of Corrections. More victims were obtained from a call center based in Georgia. (All of these names and personal identifying information were used to file 7,000 false tax returns claiming more than $20 million in refunds.)

The bogus tax returns were filed under several fraudulently obtained Electronic Filing Numbers obtained from a federal government agency in the names of non-existent tax businesses. Refunds were processed through U.S. Treasury checks, prepaid debit cards and through financial institutions connected to the Electronic Filing Numbers.

The defendants cashed the tax refund checks at businesses located across Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky. Yet another co-conspirator collected a check cashing fee at a popular retail store for her involvement in the scheme.

Eight of the nine women charged in the case have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges including conspiracy to file false claims, aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to file false claims, up to 20 years for each wire fraud count and a minimum of two years for each aggravated identity theft count.

It’s a given that as criminals become more sophisticated, more victims will be impacted by the selfish acts of those who are disrespectful to innocent taxpayers, especially military service members who put their lives in harm’s way every day. This case sends a clear message to ”aspiring” fraudsters that the Tax Division is serious about pursuing and prosecuting those individuals who seek to steal from the U.S. Treasury. (Let’s hope the judge will punish these criminals appropriately, making them pay for their offenses and correcting the damage they have done.)

 

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”8 Women Plead Guilty in $20M Income Tax Refund Fraud Ring,” written by Hunter Robinson and posted on WSFA.com on April 1, 2015.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – As of Wednesday, Eight Alabama and Georgia residents have pleaded guilty for their roles in a $20 million income tax refund fraud conspiracy, according to United States Attorney General of the Middle District of Alabama, George L. Beck, Jr. and acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

In 2014, nine women were arrested and charged in connection to the conspiracy, eight of which were from the state of Alabama. They are accused of stealing peoples’ identities and filing fraudulent income tax returns in their names.

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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.