Federal tax refund fraud is a growing problem that has the IRS on its toes. Over the past few years the IRS has intensifyied its efforts to combat refund fraud, but it has been a challenge for the IRS to keep pace.
Some tax criminals are unsophisticated, inexperienced solo operations that are just not very good at what they do. These are the people we end up reading about in the news after IRS Criminal Investigation nails them. The more successful tax fraud schemes involve multiple moving parts, or so they think. For example, when the unsophisticated, inexperienced individual fraudster is well-connected — if he has the right kind of friends — he believes that his potential for swindling the government will increase exponentially.
And if one of his connections happens to be a banker, then he thinks he’s golden. Hilda Josephine Hernandez-McMullen, a former employee of Wells Fargo Bank, pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of bank fraud. She admitted to assisting members of an identity theft and tax fraud ring that had sought $25 million in false refunds. She opened bank accounts for people knowing the information provided to her was inaccurate and she cashed fraudulent checks totalling about $38,000.
Ten members of the fraud ring were charged, and Hernandez-McMullen herself is looking at 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud if she receives the maximum sentence. Not so golden afterall…