Archive for January, 2013

Cortland car dealership owner charged with ID theft

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Terry Morrow Jr., owner of Silver Star Motors in Cortland, is being investigated for 25 cases of identity theft, seven of which involved DeKalb County residents, DeKalb County court records show. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office is investigating 18 cases linked to Morrow in Missouri.

Morrow, 25, of the 1200 block of Christopher Court in Elgin, faces seven Class 2 felony charges, all punishable by up to seven years in prison. He is being held at DeKalb County Jail on $750,000 bond.

No identity theft victim lost money, but each lending company Morrow used in his alleged scheme was defrauded of between $3,000 and $7,000, police said.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said police made an arrest just in time, as Morrow was about to close shop and leave Cortland. At about 10 p.m. Tuesday, police were informed a U-Haul was at the dealership being loaded with office supplies and all the cars that were for sale were gone.

Morrow opened his Cortland business in April after moving from Missouri.

Once in custody, Morrow explained to police how he carried out the identity thefts, Scott said.

Scott said Morrow would find a vehicle for sale online and use that information, along with customer information he obtained through his dealership, to take out a loan from a finance company. Morrow told police he would give the finance companies a bogus address for the borrower.

Morrow would never actually buy the vehicles, but pocketed the loan proceeds.

Once he received the loan, he would make initial payments but then stop, Scott said. Because he provided incorrect addresses to the loan companies, those institutions would have a difficult time tracking down the customers who had the loans in their names, Scott said.

According to court documents, police were tipped off when a customer of the dealership reported receiving a payment book for a loan for a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer, even though he had purchased a 2001 Ford Windstar from the dealership in October.

Article source: http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2013/01/30/cortland-car-dealership-owner-charged-with-id-theft/ab2qnpq/

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Oakley woman sentenced for ID theft, other charges

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

SANTA ROSA, Calif.—A Contra Costa County woman will be serving time behind bars after being sentenced for identity theft and other charges.

Sonoma County prosecutors say Denise Hankins was sentenced to ten years in prison on Wednesday after being convicted of 20 counts of identity theft and related charges.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch says the 42-year-old Hankins will serve her time in county jail because of prison realignment. Hankins will also be under mandatory supervision for five years once she’s released.

Authorities say Hankins, who is from Oakley, bilked more than 60 individuals, business and banks by using stolen IDs to set up phony checking accounts. Losses were estimated at less than $100,000.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports ( http://bit.ly/UEuu95) that police found stolen and forged documents in a briefcase when Hankins was arrested at a hotel in September.

Investigators uncovered more forged documents when they searched her home.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_22484960/oakley-woman-sentenced-id-theft-other-charges

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Ally TARP Exit, IRS ID-Theft Battles, HSBC: Compliance

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The U.S. Treasury and the watchdog
for its bailout program are sparring over whether the department
has an adequate exit plan for auto lender Ally Financial Inc. (ALLY)

“While Treasury has noted that it has several options for
possible divestment, including a public or private sale of stock
or other sale of Ally assets, Treasury has not decided which of
these exit paths to take,” the special inspector general for
the Troubled Asset Relief Program said in a report yesterday.
“It is essential that when the government finally exits Ally
that it do so forever.”

Timothy Massad, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for
financial stability, said in a letter to the inspector general
released Jan. 29 that the exit plan involves “two strategic
initiatives” — the reorganization of Residential Capital LLC,
the bankrupt mortgage company owned by Ally, and the sale of
Ally’s international operations.

Detroit-based Ally, which received a $17.2 billion bailout,
is 74 percent owned by the U.S. government. The special
inspector general report said Ally still owes U.S. taxpayers
$14.6 billion.

The debate over Ally is the latest in a series of spats
between the Treasury and the special inspector general, or
SIGTARP, the oversight body created as part of the TARP
bailouts. In a Jan. 28 report, the SIGTARP criticized the
Treasury for failing “to rein in excessive pay” at bailed-out
companies. The quarterly report released yesterday also showed
that the special inspector general’s office is still growing as
the bailout program winds down.

“Ally is highly confident in its ability to repay the
remaining U.S. Treasury investment in full,” Ally spokeswoman
Gina Proia said in an e-mailed statement. “We have taken a
number of steps in 2012 designed to best position the company to
exit TARP, and there has been significant progress thus far.”

Compliance Action

Refunds Seen Postponed in IRS Quest to Stop ID Theft

Some taxpayers seeking a quick refund may have to wait
longer than usual this year as the Internal Revenue Service
tries to stop criminals who steal others’ identities and file
fraudulent returns.

The agency, which begins accepting 2012 returns today, is
making its automated system more sensitive to signs of potential
fraud, meaning some returns will get a closer look. Last year,
the IRS prevented $20 billion in fraudulent refunds from being
issued, up from $14 billion the previous year.

The tax agency’s efforts to combat identity theft reflect
the tension in the IRS’s multiple missions, said Benson
Goldstein, a senior technical manager at the American Institute
of Certified Public Accountants in Washington.

The IRS has been trying to shorten processing times to
accelerate refunds, in part to encourage electronic filing and
in part to reduce taxpayers’ reliance on short-term loans. The
speed of refunds presented an opportunity for fraud.

The IRS expects to meet its goal of delivering 90 percent
of refunds within 21 days, Michelle Eldridge, a spokeswoman for
the agency, said in an interview Jan. 29. That compares with
months of waiting for taxpayers who are victims of identity
theft
.

Taxpayer identity theft has become more prevalent in the
past few years. For fiscal 2012, the IRS’s identity-theft unit
received about 450,000 cases, up 78 percent over the previous
year, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, an
independent organization within the agency.

For more, click here.

Bank Rossii to Introduce Basel III Capital Requirements in April

Basel III capital and capital adequacy requirements are to
start April 1, Alexey Lobanov, deputy director of the Bank
Regulation Department at Russia’s Central Bank said yesterday by
e-mail.

“Prudential supervision” is seen beginning Oct. 1,
Lobanov said.

New rules require a core Tier I capital ratio of 5.6
percent, a Tier I capital ratio of 7.5 percent, and a total
capital adequacy ratio of 10 percent, which is already in
effect, Lobanov said.

Basel III financial rules are to be introduced gradually.
By 2019, Basel III will require 4.5 percent minimum equity
capital, 6 percent minimum Tier-1 capital, and 2.5 percent
capital conservation buffer.

Courts

Unemployed U.K. Man Made $1 Million With Insider Tips, FSA Says

An unemployed British man made 692,644 pounds ($1.09
million) spread-betting with inside tips he received about
upcoming mergers, a lawyer for the U.K. Financial Services
Authority said.

Richard Joseph, 43, traded on information he received from
Ersin Mustafa, who worked in the print room at JPMorgan Chase
Co. (JPM)
’s Cazenove unit, FSA lawyer Michael Bowes told a jury
yesterday, the first of Joseph’s London criminal court trial.

Joseph, unemployed since the summer of 2000, was charged
with conspiring to trade on shares of Abbot Group Ltd., Fiberweb
Plc (FWEB)
, IMI Plc, Expro International Group Plc, Greene King Plc and
Aero Inventory Plc, based on the tips from Mustafa between
September 2007 and July 2008.

Joseph made payments of more than 268,000 pounds to
Mustafa, who also passed on tips from his brother, Ali, who
worked at the UBS AG print room, prosecutors said.

Joseph pleaded not guilty to six charges of conspiracy to
commit insider trading and will provide his defense later in the
trial.

Mustafa has fled the U.K., Bowes said.

Tradition Agrees to Pay $250,000 to Settle Bond-Rig Suit

Tradition (North America) Inc., a unit of Paris-based
broker Viel Cie. (VIL), agreed to settle allegations that it rigged
bids for municipal bond reinvestment deals, according to
officials in Massachusetts.

In a civil settlement, the broker agreed to pay $250,000 as
well as submit to a probe of whether the firm owes any
additional money, according to the state attorney general’s
office.

The state alleged that Tradition, which conducted bidding
processes among financial institutions for reinvestment deals,
allowed certain companies to win the business at below-market
rates. Tradition worked for the state between 2000 and 2004 and
was supposed to get the highest interest rates from banks on
investments of municipal bond proceeds, according to the
attorney general’s office.

Representatives for Tradition in New York and Paris didn’t
immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Tradition
Inc., 2010-04378, Massachusetts Superior Court (Suffolk County).

Interviews

O’Malia Says U.S. Must Recoup All Peregrine Funds

Scott O’Malia, a Republican commissioner on the Commodity
Futures Trading Commission, talked about the latest developments
in the case of bankrupt commodities broker Peregrine Financial
Group Inc., and the importance of technology in market
oversight.

O’Malia, speaking with Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg
Television’s “Market Makers,” also discussed staff changes at
the CFTC.

For the video, click here.

Mursi Says Egypt Will Uphold Security of Foreign Investments

Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi said his government seeks
foreign direct investment and will uphold the legal security
that is a pre-condition for attracting investors.

Mursi made his comments at a German-Egyptian trade
conference in Berlin.

Comings and Goings

HSBC Hires Tax, Anti-Terror Chiefs to Bolster Controls Team

HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) appointed former U.S. Deputy Attorney
General James Comey and ex-U.K. tax chief Dave Hartnett to a
panel to combat financial crime after the bank paid $1.92
billion to settle money-laundering probes.

Comey, who will be a non-executive director at HSBC, joins
Bill Hughes, 62, ex-head of the Britain’s Serious Organised
Crime Agency; Juan Zarate, a former George W. Bush
administration counter-terrorism adviser, and former U.K.
diplomat Nick Fishwick, 54, in providing advice, London-based
HSBC said in a statement yesterday.

Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver’s attempts to
reduce costs and improve profitability have been hurt by U.S.
probes and by compensation claims from U.K. clients. A Senate
committee said in July that lax oversight by top HSBC executives
gave terrorists and drug cartels access to the U.S. financial
system. The December settlement by Europe’s biggest bank by
market value to end investigations into money laundering is the
largest of its type reached in the U.S.

The HSBC committee will provide guidance on anti-money
laundering systems and controls, tax transparency, preventing
terrorist financing and drug financing, the bank said.

For more, click here.

OCC’s Head of Supervision for Largest U.S. Banks Leaves Position

Michael L. Brosnan has stepped down as chief of large bank
oversight at the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
in a request that took the agency head by surprise.

Brosnan requested reassignment at the agency after
supervising large banks since the 2008 credit crisis, according
to an OCC statement released yesterday. Martin Pfinsgraff will
take over as acting senior deputy comptroller for large bank
supervision. Pfinsgraff, a former treasurer at a unit of
Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU) who has been the OCC’s deputy
comptroller for credit and market risk, will assume the new role
next month, according to the statement.

Brosnan has accepted a position as examiner-in-charge for
the national bank of Salt Lake City, Utah-based Zions
Bancorporation (ZION)
, according to the statement. He spent more than
21 years at the OCC before leaving in 2004 to join MBNA Corp.,
which was acquired in 2006 by Bank of America Corp.

Darrin Benhart, one of two deputy comptrollers running the
Credit and Market Risk Group, will temporarily take over the
entire group.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Carla Main in New Jersey at
cmain2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this report:
Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

Article source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-31/ally-tarp-exit-irs-id-theft-battles-hsbc-compliance.html

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Police: 3 Identity Theft Reports In One Week

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The following reports were provided by the Glenview Police Department

Burglary

On Jan. 21, a business owner on the 1400 block of Waukegan Rd. reported their business had been burglarized, according to police. Entry was apparently made by force through an exterior door, and an interior wall was damaged, police say. Nothing appeared taken, but the incident cost about $2,075.00 in damage, according to police. 

Parking Fight

On Jan. 21, officers responded to a parking lot on the 2300 block of Willow Rd. for a fight in progress, police say. A male/female couple were fighting another man over a parking spot, according to police. Both men experienced minor injuries, but no complaints were signed, police say. 

Theft

On Jan. 21, a resident on the 2600 block of Glenview Rd. reported a moving company was hired to remove property from the residence, police say. During the move, several power tools and other household items, all worth about $1,650.00, were taken, according to police.

Identity Theft

On Jan. 22, a Glenview resident reported someone used their credit card number to make 19 unauthorized purchases in December 2012, police say. The purchases were made in towns around the Chicago area, Washington D.C. and Florida, for a total loss of $3,722.16, according to police. 

On Jan. 26, another Glenview resident reported someone used their credit card number to make six unauthorized credit cards purchases totaling approximately $2,000.00, but it’s unclear where the purchases were made, according to police. 

On Jan. 27, employees at Glenbrook Hospital reported a man came into the emergency room and attempted to receive treatment under the name of a former patient, according to police. The man was recognized from being at another hospital where he attempted to do the same thing, police say.

Sign up for the Glenview Patch morning newsletter to see future police and fire reports in your news feed.

Article source: http://glenview.patch.com/articles/police-3-identity-theft-reports-in-one-week

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IRS seeks to stop ID theft – Enterprise

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

WASHINGTON – Some taxpayers seeking a quick refund may have to wait longer than usual this year as the Internal Revenue Service tries to stop criminals who steal others’ identities and file fraudulent returns.

The agency is making its automated system more sensitive to signs of potential fraud, meaning some returns will get a closer look. Last year, the IRS prevented $20 billion in fraudulent refunds from being issued, up from $14 billion the previous year.

The tax agency’s efforts to combat identity theft reflect the tension in the IRS’s multiple missions, said Benson Goldstein, a senior technical manager at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Washington.

The IRS has been trying to shorten processing times to

accelerate refunds, in part to encourage electronic filing and in part to reduce taxpayers’ reliance on short-term loans. The speed of refunds presented an opportunity for fraud.

“It’s a difficult responsibility for the IRS,” said Goldstein, who said some legitimate taxpayers may have their refunds delayed. “They’re there to get the prompt refunds but at the same time to protect the U.S. Treasury.”

The IRS expects to meet its goal of delivering 90 percent of refunds within 21 days, Michelle Eldridge, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an interview yesterday. That compares with months of waiting for taxpayers who are victims of identity theft.

The agency is trying to be careful and “underpromise and overdeliver,” said John Hewitt,

founder and chief executive officer of Liberty Tax Service, part of JTH Holding Inc., based in Virginia Beach, Va.

The IRS has long delayed refunds to prevent fraud, Hewitt said. This year’s efforts, combined with an expected flood of returns because of late congressional action that delayed the start of filing, may slow refunds by about a week, he said.

Taxpayer identity theft has become more prevalent in the past few years. For fiscal 2012, the IRS’s identity-theft unit received about 450,000 cases, up 78 percent over the previous year, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization within the agency.

Using Social Security numbers illegally obtained from sources such as doctors’ offices and payroll departments, criminals generate fake wage reports and false tax returns. They focus on the start of the tax-filing season, seeking to deposit refunds on a disposable debit or convert them into cash before legitimate taxpayers file.

“It’s a lot easier and safer for a criminal to not use a gun and go out and rob a bank,” Goldstein said. “It’s much easier to use a computer and it’s safer for you.”

Taxpayers whose identities are stolen sometimes wait months for their refunds and go through what the National Taxpayer Advocate calls “a journey through IRS processes and procedures that may take years to complete.”

The advocate, members of Congress, the agency’s inspector general and watchdog groups have been calling on the IRS to do more to prevent refund fraud and assist victims.

In its annual report last year, the IRS Advisory Council said it was “concerned that both taxpayers and the tax system will suffer if appropriate measures are not taken quickly and effectively to control this fraud.”

It recommended that the IRS withhold three-quarters of refunds until it can verify taxpayers’ identities.

For some U.S. households, a tax refund is the biggest financial event of the year. In 2012, 74.4 percent of tax filers received refunds, which averaged $2,803.

Ann Esarco, a former member of the council, said the government should require W-2 wage reports to be filed sooner. The deadline for the reports is Feb. 28, creating a gap during which the IRS has difficulty matching information it receives from taxpayers with reports from employers.

“Somehow we have to tighten that timeline,” said Esarco, an accounting instructor at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Ill.

This year, the IRS is introducing more of what it calls filters to stop fraudulent refunds from being issued. Those are rules the agency’s computers use to analyze returns and determine if they warrant more scrutiny. The IRS doesn’t disclose details to avoid giving criminals information.

“We have more of them in place this year and we’ve improved the quality of them,” Eldridge said, describing identity theft as a “top priority” for IRS. “As we get smarter, the identity thieves find ways to try new things.”

Esarco said the IRS is improving how it flags the returns of dead people who will need to have a final tax return filed for 2012.

Beth Tucker, a deputy IRS commissioner, told a congressional subcommittee last year that the agency was targeting bank accounts or addresses receiving multiple tax refunds.

The IRS said it had more than 3,000 employees focused on identity theft in late 2012, more than double the number a year earlier. Also, it said it has tripled the number of criminal investigations of identity theft and begun sharing information with local law enforcement agencies in nine states.

Taxpayers who think they are the victims of identity theft can contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490, extension 245.

Eldridge, the IRS spokeswoman, said identity theft cases are particularly complex to resolve.

“We know that this is frustrating for victims,” she said. “We have been able to take some steps to try to close those quicker, but it’s still not quick enough.”

Article source: http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci_22478107/irs-seeks-stop-id-theft

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Top identity theft charge tossed in Dead Sea Scrolls cyber-bully case

Thursday, January 31st, 2013





A panel of appellate judges has tossed out the top identity theft charge in a wacky, Dead Sea Scrolls cyber-bully case from 2010.

The panel’s decision — which upholds the remainder of the conviction against disbarred Manhattan lawyer Raphael Golb — means he now faces resentencing in the case.

Golb, 52, had been sentenced to six months jail in Nov. 2010, following his conviction on identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, harassment and unauthorized use of a computer. But he has remained free pending the appeal decided yesterday.

In convicting Golb, a jury had found he used a series of emails to impersonate and harass the academic rivals of his father, noted Scrolls researcher Norman Golb.

The son has remained free on $25,000 bail as he challenged the conviction on First Amendment grounds, insisting he meant it all as a Constitutionally-protected parody.

His lawyer, Ronald Kuby, called the panel’s decision a blow to the First Amendment rights on the Internet, and said he would immediately appeal in hopes of keeping his client at liberty.

“Nothing in this prosecution, or in the court’s jury charge, violated defendant’s First Amendment or other constitutional rights,” the appellate panel said in yesterday’s decision.

“The evidence clearly established that defendant never intended any kind of parody,” they wrote. Instead, he intended to “injure” his targets,” the panel wrote — and to benefit his father’s career.

The panel did toss the top identity theft conviction against Golb, explaining that the DA’s office failed to prove that Golb had tried to defraud anyone out of $1,000 or more.

“There are hundreds of thousands of examples of people who email or blog under assumed names,” Kuby said in response to the decision.

Now, he added, “virtually all of the online community can be criminalized at the discretion of the DA.”



Article source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/case_identity_theft_charge_tossed_cLAPZBNj3d1XjkmlVwKCrO

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Identity theft suspect arrested, police searching for more victims

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Police say a convicted felon was living the high life by skimming other people’s credit cards.

They say Josue Morales went on shopping sprees at high-end stores. But ultimately he may have ripped off the wrong guys, including a commander with the Orange County Sheriff’s office and a retired Orlando Police officer.

So far they have identified 32 victims and more may be coming.

“Basically what he is doing is he is using servers at restaurants. The one instance that we know of, a server at Too Jay’s restaurant [on East Colonial Drive] would take people’s credit card information, use a handheld device and obtain their credit card information before returning the card back to the victim,” said police spokesman Sergeant Jim Young.

Police say Josue Morales would take the card info, then recreate duplicate cards with his name, and then hit the malls.

“One of the stores that was identified was Saks Fifth Avenue, we were able to confirm he was using the card at Saks, and we believe there are several more,” said Sgt. Young.

We spoke with management from Too Jays about Morales’ illegal connection within the restaurant.

“We had set up the employee in question to come in an hour early for their shift and have an interview with OPD. After that interview was conducted she left in handcuffs and we felt like we had everything we need to terminate immediately,” said Christopher Seymour, Too Jay’s regional supervisor.

It seems the duo scammed the worst possible targets — two former law enforcement agents.

“The guest notified me that he used to be with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department,” said Seymour.

Another victim was a former Orlando Police officer.

Police raided Morales’ apartment Monday and say they found evidence of his extravagant shopping sprees, buying among other things, jewelry, clothes and even Gucci shoes.

“A lot of property was recovered in his apartment and a lot of evidence in how he would make these cards and continue his criminal enterprise,” said Sgt. Young.

Police say the also recovered a stolen gun at his apartment.

Police say Morales has a history of gun violence, escape and identity theft.

If you think you have been victimized, call Orlando Police Department at 407-246-2470.

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Article source: http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2013/1/29/identity_theft_suspe.html

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Montgomery woman, a state employee, indicted for identity theft

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

MONTGOMERY,
Alabama
— A Montgomery woman was indicted by a federal grand jury
on charges of conspiracy to use stolen identities to file fraudulent tax
returns, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today.


Justice Department logo.JPG

A Montgomery woman who worked for the state was indicted in connection with her involvement in a conspiracy to use stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.


 

Chequlia Motley was indicted on
various charges, including conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud and five
counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Motley
worked for an Alabama state government agency and had access to individuals’
personal identifying information as part of her job. She stole identities and
sold them to several co-conspirators, the indictment alleges. Those
co-conspirators used the stolen identities to file false tax returns that
fraudulently requested tax refunds from the IRS.

If convicted, Motley faces a
maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy charge, up
to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud charge and a mandatory two-year
sentence for the aggravated identity theft counts. She will also be subject to
fines and mandatory restitution if convicted.  

Article source: http://blog.al.com/montgomery/2013/01/montgomery_woman_state_employe.html

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Amid drive against ID theft, some tax refunds face delays

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Some taxpayers seeking a quick refund may have to wait longer than usual this year as the Internal Revenue Service tries to stop criminals who steal others’ identities and file fraudulent returns.

The agency, which began accepting 2012 returns Wednesday, is making its system more sensitive to signs of potential fraud, meaning some returns will get a closer look. Last year, the IRS prevented $20 billion in fraudulent refunds from being issued, up from $14 billion in 2011.

The efforts reflect the tension in the IRS’s multiple missions, said Benson Goldstein, at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The IRS has been trying to to accelerate refunds in part to encourage electronic filing and in part to reduce taxpayers’ reliance on short-term loans. But the speed of refunds presented an opportunity for fraud.

‘‘It’s a difficult responsibility for the IRS,’’ said Goldstein. ‘‘They’re there to get the prompt refunds but at the same time to protect the US Treasury.’’

The IRS expects to meet its goal of delivering 90 percent of refunds within 21 days, said Michelle Eldridge, a spokeswoman. That compares with months for victims of identity theft.

The agency is trying to be careful and ‘‘underpromise and overdeliver,’’ said John Hewitt, chief executive of Liberty Tax Service. The IRS has long delayed refunds to prevent fraud, he said. This year’s effort, combined with late congressional action that delayed the start of filing, may slow refunds by a week, he said.

Taxpayer identity theft has become more prevalent. For fiscal 2012, the IRS’s identity-theft unit received about 450,000 cases, up 78 percent over the previous year, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization within the agency.

Using Social Security numbers obtained illegally, criminals generate fake wage reports and false tax returns. They focus on the start of the tax-filing season, seeking to deposit refunds on a disposable debit card or convert them into cash before the legitimate taxpayers file.

‘‘It’s a lot easier and safer for a criminal to not use a gun and go out and rob a bank,’’ Goldstein said. ‘‘It’s much easier to use a computer.”

Taxpayers whose identities are stolen sometimes wait months for their refunds.

The advocate, members of Congress, the agency’s inspector general, and watchdog groups have been calling on the IRS to do more to prevent refund fraud and assist victims. Last year, the IRS Advisory Council said it was ‘‘concerned that both taxpayers and the tax system will suffer if appropriate measures are not taken quickly.”

It recommended that the IRS withhold three-quarters of refunds until it can verify taxpayers’ identities.

For some households, a tax refund is the biggest financial event of the year. In 2012, more than 74 percent of tax filers received refunds, averaging $2,803.

This year, the IRS is introducing more of what it calls filters — rules its computers use to determine if tax returns warrant more scrutiny. The IRS said it had more than 3,000 employees focused on identity theft in late 2012, more than double the number a year earlier.

Article source: http://bostonglobe.com/business/2013/01/30/irs-tax-refunds-may-delayed-drive-stop-theft/8Vxoj8twQP7WY43qklKgEO/story.html

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Fort Lauderdale woman faces 351 years in prison in tax fraud scheme – Sun

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

A Fort Lauderdale woman was convicted of heading an identity theft tax fraud scheme that netted $11 million in federal tax refunds and involved the filing of approximately 2,000 fraudulent tax returns, federal prosecutors said.

Alci Bonannee, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, faces a prison sentence of up to 351 years as the primary leader in the identity theft ring, prosecutors said.

Between December 2010 and June 2012, Bonannee was one of several people who submitted thousands of tax returns to the IRS using identities stolen from unsuspecting victims, authorities said. The Department of Treasury paid out millions into bank accounts controlled by Bonannee and accomplices.

Bonannee and the others then withdrew the funds in cash, prosecutors said.

Law enforcement officers searched Bonannee’s home and found a notebook and folder containing more than 1,000 names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers belonging to identity theft victims, court records related to the case show.

Bonannee was convicted Monday of one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, nine counts of filing false claims in violation, nine counts of aggravated identity theft and fourteen counts of wire fraud, according to federal prosecutors.

Bonannee is scheduled to be sentenced on April 26. Her accomplice, Chante Mozley, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file fraudulent claims on Jan. 9 and faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28. 

Sonyini Clay, another accomplice, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file fraudulent claims and aggravated identity theft on Jan. 14 and faces a prison sentence of up to 12 years.  Sentencing for Clay is scheduled for April 26. 

ijrodriguez@tribune.com; 954-356-4605 or @GeoRodriguez on Twitter Instagram

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-lauderdale-tax-fraud-conviction-20130129,0,3486742.story

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