Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Identity thieves filed for $4M in tax refunds using names of living and dead.

A group of sophisticated identity thieves managed to steal millions of dollars by filing bogus tax returns using the names and Social Security numbers of other people, many of them deceased, according to a 74-count indictment unsealed in Arizona Thursday. The thieves operated their scheme for at least three years from January 2005 to April 2008, allegedly filing more than 1,900 fraudulent tax returns involving about $4 million in refunds directed to more than 170 bank accounts. The conspirators used numerous fake IDs to open internet and phone accounts, and also used more than 175 different IP addresses around the United States to file the fake returns, which were often filed in bulk as if through an automated process.

The IRS allows taxpayers to file their returns electronically and obtain their refunds through direct deposit to a bank account or to a pre-paid debit card account, which lets them withdraw the funds from an ATM. The scam took advantage of the IRS’ quick turnaround in processing refunds for electronically filed returns. The IRS typically processes a refund request without verifying the taxpayer’s information — such as whether the taxpayer is alive — or confirming that the taxpayer is legitimately owed money. The crooks just needed names and Social Security numbers of victims, which they acquired from various sources, and a company’s name and tax-ID number to list as an employer.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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