Hanging Out a Shingle

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Because taxes can be complicated, tax preparers are instrumental in helping the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collect revenue from individual taxpayers. It behooves the tax agency to make sure that those involved in the tax preparation profession are competent and accountable for their actions. (Otherwise, fraudulent tax preparers steal money from their clients, which also costs the government a lot of money.) To the IRS’ credit, one Florida woman who “hung out a shingle” for her fraudulent tax preparation business is now being held accountable for her criminal actions.

For four tax years, the fraudulent tax preparation business owner provided services through two different companies located in Port St. Lucie and Miami. During that time, she prepared and submitted individual tax returns on behalf of her clients claiming false deductions. (She also filed a few false returns in her own name while she was at it, claiming that she had five different dependents, when she didn’t.)

Today’s fraudster was charged in a 52-count indictment for running her fraudulent tax preparation business with the intent to file bogus tax returns on behalf of her clients. She pleaded guilty to only five of the charges. Consequently, the 40-year-old Port St. Lucie resident was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release. If this fraudster had been convicted on all 52 counts, she could have been sentenced to 156 years in prison (three years for each count) and fined $5.2 million ($100,000 for each count). (Lucky for her, that was not the case.)

This tax preparer’s clients trusted her to accurately represent them, not put them at risk. It looks like the IRS didn’t leave this fraudster’s clients hanging and declared this criminal incompetent when it comes to preparing tax returns and held her accountable for her illegal actions. (This woman’s former career as a tax preparer is now over and her shingle is coming down.)

Source: Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a Department of Justice press release entitled, “Port St. Lucie Resident Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Running Fraudulent Tax Preparation Business” released on May 18, 2017.

A Port St. Lucie resident was sentenced to 30 months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release, after pleading guilty to assisting in the preparation of false tax returns and filing false tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Sections 7206(2) and (1).

Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.

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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.