Information at Her Fingertips

Income tax docs with hand and pen on table

No one likes a fraudster, but ones who use the identities of the disabled really move into the lowest category of despicable.

Tamara Manuel, of Vallejo CA was sentenced, on June 16th, 2022, for carrying out a fraudulent scheme that involved stealing the identities of severely disabled individuals to obtain federal tax refunds. She carried out this scheme while working at Sonoma Development Center, a large state-run facility for the mentally disabled in Eldridge, CA.

The information needed for Manuel to start up the fraudulent returns was readily available at Manuel’s fingertips. In her role, Manuel had access to SDC patients’ personal identification information including Social Security Numbers and birthdates. Starting in 2011, Manuel misappropriated patients’ identities and filed tax returns in their names, then invented their employment status, wages, withholding and dependents to get refunds, from the Internal Revenue Service.

In one such example, provided in court, Manuel filed a return in the name of a patient she described as a forklift truck driver who made more than $23,000 a year, had a dependent and was owed a child tax credit. In fact, the man had no income, was severely disabled with conditions that included autism, bipolar disorder and epilepsy, and required 24-hour care. Prosecutors said she filed similar returns for other patients who suffered from conditions that included blindness in both eyes, infantile cerebral palsy and the brain disease encephalopathy.

Manuel didn’t just limit the fraudulent returns to patients of SDC.  She also filed hers and her son’s federal tax returns to include fabricated dependent information falsely claiming they each had dependents. Those “dependents” consisted of not only patients from SDC but their own relatives. Pretty sure this won’t get Tamara Manuel awarded Mom of The Year! It will be up to Junior if he wants to mail her a Mother’s Day Card over the next few years, but he won’t be able to take her out for brunch. Tamara Manuel will be the spending 39 months in jail.

A special thanks to the IRS. While constantly working to decipher fraudulent and truthful tax returns, they were able to protect those who were not capable of realizing their identity had been stolen.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, posted by CBS News, on June 16, 2022


A judge sentenced Vallejo resident Tamara Manuel Thursday to more than three years in prison for stealing the identities of severely disabled persons in order to get federal tax refunds.

U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of California Phillip Talbert said in a press statement that Manuel carried out the scheme while working at Sonoma Development Center (SDC), a large, state-run facility serving people with developmental disabilities.

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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.