Soldiers Feel Financial Burden of Tax Refund Fraud

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Today we have an example of a woman who stole and exploited soldiers’ identities to make a quick buck. (Well, $65,356.84, to be exact.) According to a press release published by the U.S. Attorney’s office, a Maryland woman abused her access to soldiers’ personally identifiable information by fraudulently submitting income tax returns and receiving income tax refunds on their behalf. She also took out credit cards in their names and racked up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.

Between March of 2010 and July of 2013, the woman held two different jobs – first, she worked for a defense contractor, and, later, for a global investment management firm – that provided her access to soldiers’ personal information. She pulled this information, along with that of civilian employees, and used it to fraudulently file at least 61 federal and 11 state tax returns. A portion of those were accepted, from which she illegally received a total of $50,523. She also used people’s stolen information to apply for at least 26 separate credit card accounts, on which she made more than $14,000 in fraudulent charges. The press release details how she used the credit cards to purchase a designer Vera Wang engagement ring, amongst other luxury items.

It didn’t take long for investigators to catch on. They raided her home less than one month after her final day of employment with the defense contractor, where they discovered hoards of evidence, including sticky notes that detailed soldiers’ information, fraudulent credit card applications, as well as credit cards and receipts for the items she used them to purchase. (Apparently, this woman is a relatively organized shop-a-holic.)

She ended up pleading guilty to charges related to wire and bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, and was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison, followed by five years of probation. She also must pay $65,356,84 in restitution.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”Employee Sentenced for Using Personal Information Stolen from Her Employers to Obtain Fraudulent Tax Refunds and Credit Cards,” a press release published by the U.S. Attorney’s office on April 6, 2016.

At both places of employment, Bryan was entrusted with the personal identity information of individuals, including military personnel. According to her plea agreement, beginning in March 2010 to June 2013, Bryan engaged in a bank fraud scheme in which she applied for credit cards using personal identity information she stole from work at the defense contractor, including the identity of soldiers. Bryan applied for at least 26 separate accounts, and made at least $14,332.54 in charges on fraudulently obtained credit cards.

In a separate fraud scheme, from March 2011 to February 2014, Bryan also used personal identity information she stole from work at both places of employment to electronically file at least 61 false federal tax returns and 11 fraudulent state income tax returns.

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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.