Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NYT Article

So, Ms Alvarez did not use my information from our interview for her article. Not a big deal - I declined to have photo taken (I was busy that week) and I refused to divulge the amount I was due as a refund (that is not America's business!).

However, she published a well-written article, and I am altogether pleased with her research.

And surprise, surprise. Still nothing from the IRS case manager! Guess who is getting a call tomorrow from one. angry. customer.

New York Times
May 27, 2012
With Personal Data in Hand, Thieves File Early and Often
by Lizette Alvarez

Indictment and plea in two Tampa tax fraud cases

 May 29, 2012
Tampa Bay Times

A used car dealer accused of accepting fraudulent tax refund checks as payment by customers and filing his own false tax returns has been indicted on a variety of fraud charges in a scheme that netted $1.17 million, the U.S. Attorney's Office said on Tuesday.

Russell B. Simmons Jr., 42, who operated Simmons Auto Sales, 4615 N 34th St., Tampa, was indicted on charges of tax fraud, identity theft, wire fraud, theft of government property and filing false returns.
Simmons accepted federal tax refund checks that he knew were obtained fraudulently "with a much higher value than the price of the vehicles he sold, keeping the difference for himself," the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida said Tuesday.

"Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers," IRS criminal investigation chief Richard Weber said in a statement.

Simmons was first arrested in late 2011 after police searched his business and found 134 Turbo Tax cards, two Jaguars, a Bentley and $38,000 in cash and money orders. At the time, he was charged with grand theft and identity theft, not tax fraud.

In an unrelated case, Arswaya Ralph, 33, of Riverview, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Tampa federal court to filing a false income tax claim and identity theft. She will be sentenced later this year.
In 2010, Ralph filed 65 fraudulent tax returns with a value of $467,000, according to her plea agreement. The scheme was so brazen that Ralph held "drop parties" where she and others filed numerous fraudulent returns, prosecutors say.

Law enforcement authorities said they found $27,000 in Ralph's bedroom closet when they searched her home.

The cases are a product of Operation Rainmaker, a yearlong effort by local and federal law enforcement that has intercepted at least 10,000 fraudulent returns worth more than $100 million, federal officials say. In addition to federal agencies, both the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough Sheriff's Office are taking part.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Interview with the New York Times

It has been a couple weeks of the usual day-to-day doldrums.  I was snapped back into tax fraud reality today when I was contacted by Lizette Alvarez from the New York Times (she is a resident reporter based in Miami).

I completed a phone interview with her tonight, and had a very casual conversation about my situation; essentially, I recapped my experience and my thoughts on this epidemic.

The story should run in the next couple days. Let's see if the NYT captures my thoughts correctly, without embellishment or sensationalism.