Tax crimes Feed

Nothing says Merry Christmas like the disembodied Santa head lights (click for a closer, clearer view) that brighten our fireplace hearth each holiday season. (Please ignore my reflected selfie!) And yes, this and other Christmas decorations are already, before Thanksgiving, up at our house! Ho, Ho, Ho! I know we've yet to celebrate Thanksgiving, but I can tell that Christmas is near, too. How? Well, in addition to having already decorated our house (interior only so far for us, but ho-ho-holiday lights are already on some of our neighbors' houses) for Santa's annual arrival, I'm getting the usual year-end flood... Read more →


Tax identity thieves apparently are paying close attention to official security moves that the Internal Revenue Service is making and using that information to create new schemes. The latest effort by crooks to steal taxpayer personal data comes in the form of a new phishing scam designed to steal tax professionals' passwords and data. e-Services is hook for latest ID theft effort: In an email alert sent this (Oct. 11) afternoon to tax pros, the IRS warned that this latest scheme tries to trick them into signing a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing email claims to be from "e-Services... Read more →


Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith is grilled Oct. 3 about the credit company's security breach by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (Click image to watch full hearing on YouTube) Human error, specifically one human's error, is why 145 million of us are worrying about what crooks will do with the data that was stolen earlier this year in a data breach of Equifax. Richard Smith, the credit reporting bureau's former CEO, in testimony before House Energy and Commerce Committee today blamed the initial failure to patch a known security risk on a specific individual. He did not... Read more →


Look out tax criminals, there’s a new sheriff in town. OK, technically Don Fort is not a sheriff. But as the new Chief of Criminal Investigation (CI) for the Internal Revenue Service, he is the tax agency’s top law enforcement officer. Last week, he announced some of CI’s goals, which include going after bad tax guys nationwide and internationally. Fort discussed three areas in which CI will be more involved and touched on how the tax agency’s stretched resources can be supplemented by a data driven investigative strategy. Traditional tax cases remain job one: Some things, however, won’t change. “First... Read more →


Every computer user is familiar with the constant updates to software. So are identity thieves. And now these crooks are targeting tax professionals in a new phishing scam designed to steal usernames and passwords. The Internal Revenue Service and its state and tax industry Security Summit partners say that this latest impersonation scheme variant is a sophisticated scam designed to get information that can be used to file false tax returns and collect fraudulent tax refunds. It's the latest in a series of scams this summer that have targeted professional tax preparers. Software upgrade hook: This is the time of... Read more →


Alfred Hitchcock nailed it in his 1955 cat burglar-turned-romance starring Grace Kelly and Gary Grant. The pair teamed up, with Grant's character using his expertise as a former jewel thief, to catch a new criminal in the wealthy playground of Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Click film screenshot to watch the movie trailer on YouTube.) The Internal Revenue Service apparently is taking a hint from a Hollywood classic. It's thinking like identity thieves to catch identity thieves. That was among the messages from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in July 25 media teleconference. Cybercriminals are showing increasing savvy and tax expertise, particularly in... Read more →


UPDATE, Sept. 18: The House of Representatives continues to make progress in efforts to end civil asset forfeitures. On Sept. 12, the chamber passed via voice vote an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar bonuses for a section of Department of Justice (DOJ) employees until they rule on 255 civil cases referred to them by the Internal Revenue Service. This follows the Sept. 5 House passage, also by voice vote, of H.R. 1843, the Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools, or RESPECT, Act. The legislation, discussed below, would impose new restrictions... Read more →


Feeling left out because tax scammers have been focusing lately on tax preparers? Don't. Crooks likely will be calling or sending you an email soon enough. The Internal Revenue Service says that everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros alike, are potential victims of identity theft schemes as we head into what used to be a slower time for taxes. "We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an alert issued today, June 26. "Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands... Read more →


Based on the fast and furious pace of tax scams this month, you'd think it was high tax season instead of summer. For the second time in just more than a week, the Internal Revenue Service has issued a new tax scam alert. (In case you missed it, the pervasive tax telephone scam was recently tweaked.) This latest scam warning is for tax professionals, who are receiving phishing emails purportedly from a tax software education provider. The fake communication asks for the tax preparers' help in repairing a failure in the message sender's sham database. To that fake end, the... Read more →


Memorial Day in the United States is the biggest day in motorsports worldwide. The starting lights in Monte Carlo signal the beginning of the glamorous F1 race in Monaco. Next, the green flag drops at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to get the cars rolling in the Indy 500. The day wraps up with the checkered flag in Charlotte, North Carolina, marking the end of NASCAR's longest race of its season. While race fans across the globe will watch at least some of the races, law enforcement officials in Thailand and the United Kingdom are focusing on other vehicles. Pol Lt-Colonel Korrawat... Read more →


A Pennsylvania man said he didn't file 10 years' worth of federal tax returns because the forms required use of a Social Security number, which he considered analogous to the Biblical "mark of the beast." James Kerr Schlosser's 666 tax protest, however, didn't convince the Internal Revenue Service or the legal system. The 59-year-old Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, resident was convicted on March 7 of failing to report $2.3 million he earned as a medical equipment salesman. Foreign accounts, coins used in scheme: To evade the tax due on the millions, federal court papers show that Schlosser used foreign business trusts and... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is charged with putting tax and other financial crooks behind bars. That job has gotten tougher, according the man who heads the CI, primarily because of the loss of experienced agents. "We're at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it," CI Chief Richard Weber said during a press this week in conjunction with the release of the division's 2016 annual report. "There's still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It's very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated... Read more →


Tax season is here. You know what that means. Tax scams are here in full force. Even before the official 2017 filing season started, the Internal Revenue Service warned tax professionals to be on the lookout (sorry, I know that the BOLO phrase is a touchy one when it comes to the IRS) for yet another tax scam. This one, according to the IRS and its Security Summit partners, is a new e-mail phishing scheme aimed at tax pros that has the subject line "Mails on Hold!" It comes just two months after the crooks tried to get tax preparer... Read more →


Taxpayers will be "trusted customers" when they file their tax returns next year. That's how the Internal Revenue Service and its state tax and private sector Security Summit partners are approaching the 2017 filing season. The group, which discussed upcoming security measures at a press conference Nov. 3, says the filing process next year will focus on and expanded features that will help ensure the authenticity of the taxpayer and the tax return. Paris officials last summer removed the love locks from Pont des Arts for safety reasons, but the IRS and its Security Summit partners are adding heavy duty... Read more →


Eighty-five years ago today -- Oct. 17, 1931 -- a federal jury in Chicago convicted gangster Al "Scarface" Capone of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, ultimately ending up in fabled Alcatraz. Al Capone's U.S. Department of Justice mug shot, taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. Keep that in mind if you're thinking of blowing off today's extended filing deadline for getting your 2015 tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. All these years later, the IRS and Treasury still proudly point to Capone's conviction. It was T-men who put... Read more →


Have global law enforcement officers cracked the biggest U.S. tax scam ever? Probably not, but it appears they have at least slowed one major criminal operation. Indian officials raided several call centers outside of Mumbai and arrested 70 people in connection with the extensive IRS impersonator tax scam. Indian investigators this week arrested around 70 people in the Mumbai suburb of Thane on charges of allegedly calling Americans and pretending to be Internal Revenue Service representatives in order to obtain payments for fake tax bills. The arrests, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and Guardian newspapers, came the... Read more →


A married couple who helped the federal government collect more than $74 million from a tax criminal finally got their financial reward last week. U.S. Tax Court building in downtown Washington, D.C. On Aug. 3, after fighting for the whistleblowing payment for four years, the anonymous tax tattletales, referred to as Petitioner 21276-13W and Petitioner 21277-13W in court documents, were awarded $17,791,607. The U.S. Tax Court ruled the husband and wife deserved the nearly $17.8 million whistleblower award, which is this week's By the Numbers figure, despite the federal government's argument that the claim was outside the scope of the... Read more →


Victims of tax identity theft must use a special tax number when they file since their Social Security number has been appropriated by crooks. This new six-digit tax ID is known as the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN. Others who aren't ID theft victims, but who want to use that number instead of their nine-digit Social Security ID for added security when they file, also can opt in to the program. But that option has been on hold for months because, you got it, concerns about tax identity thieves hacking into Internal Revenue Service systems. Now the... Read more →


Sports fans tend to be, well, fanatic. To many, it's what a player does during the game, not his or her off-field antics that matter. Moment of the Champions League final with FC Barcelona's Leo Messi, left, going against Patrice Evra of Juventus at Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 6, 2015. (Photo by Biser Todorov via Wikimedia Commons) That kind of no-questions-asked support was what the Barcelona football -- or soccer, as most Americans call the sport -- team was counting on in the wake of its star player's tax evasion conviction. Public outreach, tax backlash: Last week after Lionel... Read more →


Taxpayer security, despite some recent issues, actually is improving. That's the word from the Internal Revenue Service and its private sector Security Summit partners Tax crooks tried to claim $1.1 billion in fraudulent refunds on 171,000 returns this latest main tax-filing season, the IRS announced at a press conference this morning. But the agency caught those fake returns filed from January through April before any money was sent to the identity thieves. That's an improvement over the prevention rate the year before, when the IRS stopped $754 million in fraudulent refunds claimed on 141,000 fake returns. The improved identification of... Read more →