Tax crimes Feed

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 →


Hackers continue to assault the Internal Revenue Service's online options, forcing the agency to shut down yet another website tool. Another automated bot hacking attempt by identity thieves has forced the IRS to stop issuing e-file PINs. On Thursday, June 23, the IRS announced that taxpayers can no longer obtain an electronic filing personal identification number, or e-file PIN, at either IRS.gov or even via phone. And due to growing identity theft and tax refund fraud threats, the shutdown of the e-file ID option might be permanent. Who needs an e-file PIN? Some taxpayers use an e-file PIN to verify... Read more →


As the U.S. Senate was preparing to debate tougher gun control proposals (they all failed, by the way, in votes held Monday, June 20), a government transparency group was issuing a report on the amount of armaments held by non-military U.S. agencies. In its publication "The Militarization of America," Open the Books also blasts the Internal Revenue Service for its inadequate inventory control in tracking weapons in its Criminal Investigation Unit. Open the Books, which is a project of the nonprofit organization American Transparency, says in its report that: Sixty-seven non-military federal agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's a common mantra down here in Texas. A variation applied this week in a federal bankruptcy courtroom in Big D. The judge there ruled that a former Lone Star billionaire's big attempt to shelter money offshore means he owes the Internal Revenue Service a big bill. Sam Wyly, a once legendary Dallas businessman, philanthropist and one of the wealthiest men in the country (shown at right on the October 2015 cover of D CEO magazine), was found on May 10 to have defrauded the IRS by shuffling assets among a network of offshore trusts... Read more →


The 2016 presidential campaign has been an unusual one in many ways. The so-called political establishment has been under fire on both the Democratic and Republican sides. Usually reliable pollsters and pundits have seen their projections upended by a new type of electorate. And social media has become a major player in the race for the White House. But one thing hasn't changed. The presumptive GOP nominee is as reluctant in 2016 to release his federal tax returns as was the 2012 candidate. This year, it's Donald J. Trump who says he won't release his tax returns until the Internal... Read more →


Brothels are legal in New South Wales, Australia, so officials there had no problem when Jamelie Lahood ran the Stiletto brothel for more than a decade until 2014. A room at Stiletto, a high-end brothel in Sydney, Australia. Photo from the bordello's Instagram account. However, Australian tax officials do take issue with the nearly $2 million ($1.5 million in U.S. currency) they say Lahood owes from her earnings as boss of the self-described "world's finest short stay boutique hotel and Sydney brothel." The money Lahood made operating Stiletto between 2008 and 2014 placed her among the top 0.1 percent of... Read more →


Millions of folks are working diligently these last few days before the April 18 (19th in Maine and Massachusetts) tax filing deadline. Unfortunately, that tax-focused group includes criminals. This afternoon the Internal Revenue Service issued a warning to tax professionals of a new scam that's just started showing up in some tax prep offices. In this latest iteration of tax identity theft, cyber-criminals obtain remote control of preparers' computer systems, complete and file client tax returns and redirect refunds to the thieves' accounts. The IRS says that although it knows of only a handful of cases to date, it wanted... Read more →


A group of South Florida rappers allegedly created a music label as a front for a massive tax refund fraud ring. Click image to watch the MoneyKing_GroundUP111 video on YouTube. Maybe the erstwhile rappers should change their musical moniker to Doin' Time since six of them were sentenced to jail last week in connection with the tax fraud scheme. Harlan Decoste of Miramar, Florida, who went by the alias Money King, created the label, according to the federal charges filed against him and his confederates back in August 2015 in the Southern District of Florida. Decoste received the longest prison... Read more →


Tax con artists apparently like playing in the Internal Revenue Service's backyard. The 2016 tax-filing deadline is just days away and new phishing scams are popping up. Just last month they did so symbolically, pretending to be members of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, a group dedicated to helping taxpayers get better service from the tax agency. They used TAP's good reputation in phishing emails to try to convince unsuspecting recipients to reveal personal tax information. Now tax identity thieves literally are targeting folks living in the national capital area. The IRS' headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and many of its... Read more →


Diane L. Kroupa was appointed as judge to the U.S. Tax Court in June 2013. Her term was supposed to have run for 15 years, but in June 2014 she retired early. This week Kroupa, 60, was indicted on two counts each of tax evasion, filing false returns and obstruction of an IRS audit. Her husband, Robert E. Fackler, 62, also was indicted on the same six tax-related charges. The couple is accused of understating their income by approximately $1 million on tax filings for the 2004 through 2010 tax years. Much of that too-low amount was arrived at by... Read more →


When the hubby and I head to a sporting event where only young fans are given freebies, say a team-logo cup or a bobble-head doll, we joke that we should be able to rent a kid or two so we could get the goodies. Yes, we would take sports-related candy etc. from children! This baby didn't hamper dad's ability to snag a foul ball. Plus, he provides his parents with several potential tax saving options. Click image to see MLB video of the catch and story about the ensuing controversy. Well, one Missouri man allegedly took our jesting approach to... Read more →


Each tax season, millions of folks get a large chunk of money. For many, this refund money is the largest lump sum they'll see all year. A lot of those folks, however, don't have bank accounts. So they either get their Internal Revenue Service refunds in check form or they have the money loaded onto a prepaid card. Reloadable prepaid cards are available from many tax preparation software programs. Or from tax preparation firms. Or from major retailers such as grocery, drug and big box stores. Just Google the term for myriad options. But there's one big problem with these... Read more →


In this media saturated age, there's no denying that everyone can benefit from some good PR. That also applies to federal agencies, especially the most-hated one, especially at this time of year. That's why the Internal Revenue Service (you got that already, right, from the most-hated reference?) is touting its successes against tax identity thieves. It has issued its Top 10 list of prosecutions against financial crooks during fiscal year 2015. During that government financial year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015, the IRS reports that it initiated 776 investigations into tax-related identity theft. It was... Read more →


There are many reasons folks are leery of the Internal Revenue Service, but asset seizures have to be at the top of the list. The IRS isn't the only tax collector to seize assets for nonpayment of taxes. State revenue officers use the process, too. This extreme step generally is taken by Uncle Sam's tax collector when a taxpayer has failed to pay the legal tax due either because of neglect or willful refusal. In these cases, there are guidelines the IRS must follow, including giving the taxpayer notice of the tax assessment and conducting a hearing if requested by... Read more →


There are very few times when folks are on the Internal Revenue Service's side, but this might just be one of them. The IRS has slapped pharmaceutical bad boy Martin Shkreli with a tax lien totaling more than $4.6 million. Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli in happier times. UPDATE, Aug. 4, 2017: In addition to Uncle Sam, New York State also wants tax money from Shkreli. The Empire State's list of its 250 top tax delinquents has the financier at number 14, with a combined 2016-17 tax debt of $3.97 million. Shkreli's attorney, however, told the New York Post's Page... Read more →


And the tax hacking continues. The Internal Revenue Service says that crooks recently unleashed an automated attack upon its Electronic Filing Personal Identification Number, or e-filing PIN, application Web page. The cybercrime attempt failed. IRS stopped an automated bot attempt by identity thieves to obtain e-file ID numbers that could have been used to claim fake refunds. As all taxpayers who e-file their returns know, the IRS must verify your identity by your entry of your Self-Select PIN or your adjusted gross income from your prior year tax return. If you don't have either of those pieces of info, you... Read more →


The list of states warning taxpayers that they'll have to wait longer for their tax refunds is growing. But don't blame the state tax collectors. Anger should be directed at the increasing number of criminals who are stealing individuals' personal data and then using it to file fraudulent tax returns, at federal and state levels. Illinois, Louisiana and Utah revenue departments were the first to announce that new security protocols would mean more time to verify and process state returns. Now we've gotten similar messages from Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Carolina tax officials. South Carolina: Let's start down... Read more →