Tax crimes Feed

Welcome to a new week, another seven days for cyber criminals to try to steal your personal, financial and tax information. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners in state tax departments and the tax world's private sector spent five days alerting us to potential tax identity theft schemes and ways to ensure we don't fall victim. Unfortunately, we need to be aware of the dangers of online tax and financial crime every single day of the year, not just for one designated week. That's why today I'm recapping the National Tax Security Awareness Week warnings.... Read more →


Computer hacking ID theft image by Don Hankins via Flickr The billions of holiday shoppers who head for their electronic devices instead of malls are well aware of the precautions they need to take as they pick perfect gifts from websites. This year, everyone also needs to be on alert for tax crooks who've joined this annual online crime wave. Specifically, the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners warn that they've recently seen a surge of fraudulent emails where the sender impersonates the IRS and uses tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware.... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's crime fighting division did a bang-up job last fiscal year, stopping almost $10 billion in tax fraud. That 2018 amount was four times more than the previous fiscal year, according to the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Division’s annual report released today. CI, which marked its 100-year anniversary at the Oct. 1 start of the 2019 fiscal year, identified $9.7 billion in tax fraud during the last fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018). That's up dramatically from the $2.5 billion CI found in fiscal 2017. Much crime, but tax fraud focus: General tax fraud... Read more →


Winston Shrout giving a financial seminar via YouTube before his recent tax legal troubles. Winston Shrout believes he's an alien with Biblical origins who was sent to Earth to destroy a particular group of Catholics. Shrout's also a convicted tax evader. Last week, a Portland judge determined that despite Shrout's out-there delusions, the 70-year-old is competent to face sentencing on guilty verdicts on 13 counts of issuing fake financial documents to banks and six counts of willful failure to file tax returns. During his 2017 trial, prosecutors introduced evidence showing that between 2009 and 2014, Shrout earned $562,224 from a... Read more →


Got enough money that you've diversified by investing in some international accounts? Good for you. If, however, those non-U.S. holdings are, shall we say, designed to be ultra-private, you might want to think about opening them up. Specifically, tell the Internal Revenue Service about that money you've been hiding from Uncle Sam or pay a big price when your tax haven money is discovered. One way to do that is by taking advantage of the IRS' Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). That opportunity, however, is about to end. Closing OVDP: Back in March, the IRS announced that it was giving... Read more →


Is there anyone anywhere who hasn't been a potential identity theft victim? Probably not. Even if the crooks haven't stolen your identity — yet — there's still the possibility if some holder of any of your personal information has been hacked. And that happens every day. The biggies get the most attention, like last year when cyber criminals got hold of Equifax credit bureau data, putting almost 146 million identities at risk. And no one is safe. Just last week, the federal government again fell victim to hackers. The State Department, like the Office of Personnel Management and Internal Revenue... Read more →


The courthouse where a federal jury on Aug. 21 found Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges, including five tax evasion counts. Could he also face state charges? (Photo via Google Earth) It's the day after bombshell revelations in two federal courtrooms and the political and tax world is still abuzz. Almost simultaneously on Tuesday, Aug. 21, afternoon, two of Donald J. Trump's former presidential campaign officials faced serious legal judgments in two separate courtrooms. In New York City, Trump's former personal lawyer pleaded guilty to eight federal felony counts of tax and bank fraud, as well as campaign finance law... Read more →


Taxpayer security remains a major concern across the United States. The Internal Revenue Service continues to use carrots — such as sharing security tips from tax pros who've been victimized — and sticks — specific data retention rules that practitioners must follow — to help protect tax pros and their clients. But the IRS is not alone in taking steps to protect taxpayer data. All states now taxpayer security breach notifications laws. And Virginia recently expanded its requirements, now mandating that tax professionals report any taxpayer data breach within a “reasonable amount of time." Enhancement of existing law: This new... Read more →


Al "Scarface" Capone at his sentencing for tax evasion. Back in the Prohibition Era, federal agents — notably those from the Internal Revenue Service — took down the notorious gangster. The tax agency's armed Criminal Investigation agents are still on the job. (Photo courtesy All That's Interesting: 25 Al Capone Facts) Paul Manafort's tax evasion (and bank fraud) trial is shining a spotlight, at least in the tax world, on the Internal Revenue Service's unit that goes after tax criminals. In most cases, like that of Donald J. Trump's former campaign manager, it's white collar tax crime. U.S. taxpayers don't... Read more →


When you hire a tax professional, you want someone you can trust. In Paul Manafort's case, that apparently meant someone he trusted to file fraudulent returns. The accountant for former Donald J. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told jurors hearing the bank fraud and tax evasion charges against the long-time political operative that she helped backdate documents and falsify financial records. Cynthia Laporta, who has been given limited immunity for her testimony, said the accounting maneuvers suggested by Manafort and his longtime business associate Rick Gates, who's also working with the prosecution and expected to eventually testify in the case,... Read more →


Paul J. Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial is underway. Three guesses, and two don't count, of what's of most interest to me. The proceedings in the Alexandria, Virginia, federal courtroom got off to a fast start. The prosecutors told the jury of six men and six women they would prove Manafort "believed the law did not apply to him." The former chairman of Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign is facing in this trial 18 counts alleging he hid more than $30 million in overseas income by funneling it through offshore accounts, lying to banks and evading taxes. One of... Read more →


Real Madrid teammates Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Luka Modrić go against each other in a Portugal vs. Croatia friendly match in June 2013. (Photo by Fanny Schertzer via Wikipedia) I'm not a soccer or World Cup fan, but many of my social media pals are. That's why my Twitter feed is full of updates on upsets and expected results from this year's tournament hosted by Russia. But those sports fans have overlooked one thing. Some of soccer's — football to the world beyond the United States — biggest global stars also have faced serious international tax battles. Portugal star fights... Read more →


Big wave surfing fall by jihx via Giphy.com The Internal Revenue Service warns that there's a growing wave of identity theft attempts against employers. This National Small Business Week 2018, the tax agency offers advice on how to keep your company afloat in the fight against these crimes. Identity thieves have long made use of stolen Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to create fake Forms W-2 that they would file with fraudulent individual tax returns. Fraudsters also used EINs to open new lines of credit or obtain credit cards. Now they are using company names and EINs to file fraudulent returns.... Read more →


High tax season ended on April 18. High tax scam season never ends. The Internal Revenue Service today warned of a twist on an old phone scam. Criminals now are using telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) to trick taxpayers into paying non-existent tax bills. It's not the first time this has happened. Back in 2015, the IRS warned of a telephone tax scam that employed spoofing, which is, in the criminal vernacular, the faking of a phone number that shows up on Caller ID. Tax identity thieves also have used smishing, the text messaging cousin of... Read more →


Identity theft is bad enough, but when it's connected to your tax data, things can be particularly scary. Not only does a crook have personal information about you, but he or she can steal the tax refund you've been counting on. In some situations where your data has been hacked, you'll want to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, to let the inform the Internal Revenue Service that you think you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft. Now you finally can file that form online. IRS, FTC take ID theft fight further online: The IRS now will... Read more →


There are so many tax scams out there that it takes more than one post to cover them. Three posts, to be precise. This is Part 3 of the Internal Revenue Service's 2018 list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. Your promised tax savings can be quickly washed away if you put your money into an abusive offshore tax shelter. This is it, a look at the final group of scams that crooks are using again this tax year to try to take our money. The final four schemes in this post, numbers 9 through 12, are like those in... Read more →


Cover photo from 2017 report Offshore Shell Games by ITEP and PIRG Offshore tax havens. The phrase immediate conjures up images of dubious financial guys who've traded in their high-powered jobs and three-piece suits for floral print shirts and umbrella-shaded drinks on a tropical beach, all funded by cash they stashed in island-based accounts, hidden from the U.S. tax collector. Sometimes that's true. Everyone knows by now of the scrutiny given to Cayman Island banks, as well as the hidden accounts revealed by the Panama Papers. But offshore in Internal Revenue Service parlance means any location outside United States boundaries.... Read more →


There are so many tax scams out there that it takes more than one post. Three, to be precise. This is Part 2 of the Internal Revenue Service's 2018 list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. The four schemes in this post, numbers 5 through 8, are like those in the initial 2018 Dirty Dozen tax scams of 2018. They also are repeat (dis)honorees. That's because once crooks find something that works, they keep using it. And sadly, there are enough new victims out there every year to fall for it. Unless potential targets are warned. To do that and... Read more →


Those fake emails looking to steal your tax and personal data top the annual IRS scam list, but 11 other crooked tricks also made it, including fake IRS agents, sham charities and frivolous tax arguments (which are the only time anyone associates taxes with frivolity!). Highlights of each of the Dirty Dozen scams will be added as the IRS releases them, one a day over 12 business days, so keep checking back. Phishing once again makes the Internal Revenue Service's annual list of Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. When it comes to tax scams, the late and loquacious MLB Hall-of-Famer Yogi... Read more →


You open the package expecting, well you don't know what, but probably not 500 cockroaches. That, however, is what happened to a mail thief. Crooks will steal just about anything. And criminals who focus on U.S. Post Office boxes tend to increase their activity around this time every year. The reason? Tax refunds. Tax-related mail theft: Every February, people are either getting refund checks from the U.S. Treasury or they're receiving tax documents they can use to file their annual federal and state returns. Either option is a crook's dream. The checks can be cashed. The tax statements' info can... Read more →