Sunday, May 27, 2012

It takes a thief

With Personal Data in Hand, Thieves File Early and Often
The United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo A. Ferrer, called identity-theft tax fraud an “epidemic.” The agency, which had $300 million cut from its budget this year, has invested the same amount in combating the problem.

“The I.R.S. is doing what they can to prevent this, but this is like a tsunami of fraud,” Mr. Ferrer said. “Everywhere I go, every dinner, every function I attend, someone will come up to me and tell me they are a victim — people in this office, police officers, firefighters.”

The criminals, some of them former drug dealers, outwit the Internal Revenue Service by filing a return before the legitimate taxpayer files. Then the criminals receive the refund, sometimes by check but more often though a convenient but hard-to-trace prepaid debit card.

In South Florida and Tampa, the problem has gotten so bad that police officers conducting unrelated searches or simple traffic stops routinely stumble across ledgers with names and Social Security numbers, boxes of stolen medical records and envelopes with debit cards.

With nothing more than ledgers of stolen identity information — Social Security numbers and their corresponding names and birth dates — criminals have electronically filed thousands of false tax returns with made-up incomes and withholding information and have received hundreds of millions of dollars in wrongful refunds, law enforcement officials say.

The government-approved cards, intended to help people who have no bank accounts, are widely available in many places, including tax preparation companies. Some of them are mailed, and the swindlers often provide addresses for vacant houses, even buying mailboxes for them, and then collect the refunds there.

Postal workers have been harassed, robbed and, in one case, murdered as they have made their rounds with mail trucks full of debit cards and master keys to mailboxes.

Any good news?
Mr. Ferrer, the United States attorney, said he had seen tax fraud overtake violent crime in Overtown, a poor, high-crime section of Miami.
As the law begins to crack down on these crack heads, Guambat hopes they include marketing companies, social media and other identity thieves in the sweep.

Better yet, while they're working on identity theft, maybe they can find a cure for Alzheimers.

But those guys are mere pikers. You gotta respect this 50 year old woman:


Former Lloyds worker Jessica Harper in £2.5m fraud charge
Jessica Harper, 50, of Croydon, south London, is accused of submitting false invoices to claim payments, between September 2008 and December 2011.

At the time she was working as head of fraud and security for digital banking and allegedly made false claims totalling £2,463,750.

Andrew Penhale, from the Crown Prosecution Service's Central Fraud Group, said: "The charge relates to an allegation that between 1 September 2008 and 21 December 2011, Jessica Harper dishonestly and with the intention of making a gain for herself, abused her position as an employee of Lloyds Banking Group, in which she was expected to safeguard the financial interests of Lloyds Banking Group, by submitting false invoices to claim payments totalling £2,463,750.88, to which she was not entitled.

Guambat reckons, but for the part of the charge that reads "by submitting false invoices to claim payments totalling £2,463,750.88", a whole lot more heads would roll at Lloyds, and elsewhere.
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