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 is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.