Go Big or Go Home

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Criminals are known for ”going big” or trying to steal as much as they can so that they can live extravagant lives. (After all, they usually reason that the ill-gotten money will allow them to buy luxury items such as designer clothes, expensive cars and posh vacations. They usually don’t think about the repercussions of getting caught.) A story posted on OANow.com tells about a woman who was involved in a stolen identity tax refund ring that claimed more than $7.5 million in tax refunds. Instead of getting to spend her cut of the illegally gained funds, she now has to pay it back and it doesn’t look like she’ll get to go home any time soon.

The article explains that the former Alabama state employee, who had access to personal identification information at two state agencies, was approached by a co-conspirator who needed stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. The former state employee provided mostly names and personal info of teenagers to the co-conspirators who then filed more than 3,000 fraudulent tax returns. (Teenagers do not usually file tax returns, so it could be years before they notice their identity had been stolen.)

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to file false claims and one count of aggravated identity theft. She received a prison sentence of 87 months to be followed by three years of supervised release. She also has to pay back nearly $3.1 million in restitution for her involvement. (Good luck on getting that back.) Several of her co-conspirators are scheduled to be sentenced as well.

When considering $7.5 million, you could say that this crime ring ”went big” in their efforts to steal as much as they could from the government. But, instead of going big or going home, this fraudster lost big and is now going to prison.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Phenix City Woman Sentenced for Stealing State Identities,” posted on OANow.com on May 19, 2015.

MONTGOMERY— A Phenix City resident and former state employee has been sentenced to serve more than seven years in prison for her role in a stolen identity tax refund fraud ring.

Tamika Floyd, 30, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge W. Keith Watkins to serve 87 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay nearly $3.1 million in restitution. Floyd pleaded guilty on Oct. 2, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to file false claims and one count of aggravated identity theft. Floyd’s co-conspirators, including Keisha Lanier, Tracy Mitchell, Latasha Mitchell, Talarious Paige and others, pleaded guilty on April 1 and are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 7.

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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.