You Can’t Make This Up

39203350 - filing taxes online using a computer and being audited

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a great list of tips for choosing a tax return preparer. One tip mentions the importance of reviewing the entire return before signing it. (This is obviously so any errors can be caught before sending it in.) A Minnesota tax return preparer intentionally made a few mistakes on her clients’ returns and claimed more than $500,000 from the IRS. (Either the clients didn’t take the time to review the claims, didn’t understand them, or they were in on the scam.)

It’s easy to understand why many people use a tax preparer to file taxes – the process seems to get more complicated each year and it takes an enormous amount of time to complete. (Once you sign the return, you are certifying that everything is accurate. You don’t want to make a mistake and be audited.) The tax preparer at the center of today’s ”Fraud of the Day” took care of the annual arduous process for about 200 friends and family over two years, but fabricated details that resulted in bogus refunds.

Further research revealed that the fraudster claimed her clients had income from non-existent jobs including ‘hair stylist’, ‘cleaner’ or ‘exotic dancer’. She also used the stolen identities of minors to list as dependents so her clients could qualify for additional tax credits. The tax preparer charged between $200 and $1,000 in cash per client. (She made a pretty good income from making up stuff.) Eventually, she got caught and the 28-year-old St. Paul woman pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft.

One tip that could be added to the list of suggestions when looking for a tax preparer is to run a character check. This woman was clearly out to rob honest taxpayers who take the time to accurately report their earnings from legitimate jobs. (This woman has to realize that you just can’t make up a job or dependents on a whim to collect money you don’t deserve.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”St. Paul woman stole identities of minors for $500,000 tax fraud,” released on August 12, 2016.

A St. Paul woman who fraudulently claimed nearly half a million dollars in tax refunds pleaded guilty Friday to one count of aggravated identity theft in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Between 2013 and 2015, Ebony Shante Yarbrough, 28, filed nearly 200 fraudulent state and federal tax returns for friends and family members, officials 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.