Disqualified

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Qualifications are some of the trickiest and most critical components of tax filings. (What income tax bracket do you qualify for? Which exemptions apply to your circumstances? Is your tax preparer professionally qualified to do your taxes?) KTUU-TV tells the story of how an American Samoan tax preparer living in Alaska fraudulently claimed $2 million in tax returns on behalf of other American Samoans who were ineligible to receive tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

For a resident of a U.S. territory, qualification considerations in tax filings are complicated by their status as an American citizen who does not live in one of the 50 states. Knowing how to file your taxes can be a valuable commodity, but the articles states that the American Samoan tax preparer, who has since moved to the continental U.S., added an illegal twist to her lucrative skill set.

According to the story, this scam artist moved from American Samoa to Alaska, where she opened a tax preparation company. Through her business, she transferred the information from American Samoa-specific W-2A forms to create fraudulent W-2 forms that showed that her clients earned money outside of American Samoa. (I wonder if, at any point, her defense attorney tried to argue that she was geographically challenged.)

For her crimes, she was sentenced to 30 months in prison as well as three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to serve 40 hours of community service and pay back $202,589 in restitution.

The judge in the case suggested the fraudster focus her community service efforts on teaching others in American Samoa how to avoid illegal tax schemes. (She is definitely qualified in how to recognize a tax refund fraud scam.) It looks like the government halted this criminal’s scheme and has further disqualified her from stealing from the government and honest taxpayers in the future.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Former Anchorage woman to serve 30 months for $2 million tax fraud scheme,” written by Cameron Mackintosh and published by KTUU-TV on Nov. 17, 2015.

ANCHORAGE –

A former Anchorage resident has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for managing a tax fraud scheme that cheated the United States Treasury out of more than $2 million, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, Pepe Anetipa, originally from American Samoa, moved to Anchorage around July 2011. Once here, she obtained an Alaska business license for a tax preparation firm called Triple-H Tax and Services.

Anetipa then filed numerous federal tax returns on behalf of residents in American Samoa who were not eligible to receive refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. In doing so, she was able to fraudulently claim approximately $2 million in tax returns from the U.S. Treasury over a period of several years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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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.