Even savvy street smart Detectives were surprised when serving the warrant in search of drugs at a Tampa Bay hotel room.
|Norman Rockwell, Tax Time, 1945
Instead of the usual things your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer might expect like mountains of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin enveloped in clouds of smoke, the Detectives found fifteen people sitting around tables furiously filling out fake tax refund forms.
Rather than tell the officers the complete truth after Miranda was read, “We’re playing a new game called Tax Crosswords…,” apparently the Taxters led the Detectives on a two year odyssey.
Tampa has long been the the epicenter of identity theft and tax refund fraud with Federal and Florida law enforcement doing their best to work as a team despite the stringent secrecy requirements for Federal tax information of citizens making investigations and prosecutions difficult. As reported in this excerpt by Bay News 9 three leaders of the alleged aggravated identity theft and tax fraud conspiracy may have taken as much as half a billion dollars, but even with that much money they never lost sight of their past acquaintances on Facebook nor forgot to apply for their food stamps and Medicaid:which in turn led to multiple grand jury indictments for which have been unsealed.
“She was known as the First Lady,” Maj. Ken Morman said. “That’s what she posted on Facebook.”
Detectives said the three were the kingpins of a ring of people that stole at least a half-billion dollars by filing fake tax returns.
Neighbors said they suspect something wasn’t right at the house.
“We suspected something wasn’t right because of the cameras and nice cars,” said neighbor Dora Hubley.
Twelve other people face charges as well, including one who police said had $23,000 in cash plus benefits cards for food stamps and Medicaid.
Police said it took two years to bring this tax fraud case to a close because of all the bureaucratic red tape. They announced Wednesday that they were forming an investigative alliance with the Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service to speed these types of cases up in the future.
They better hope a judge doesn’t sentence them to a lifetime of doing taxes, something most of us avoid. If your Conspiracy to Commit Tax Fraud has endangered not only your future freedom but your ability to maintain government subsidies, call Clearwater Criminal Attorney but don’t expect any refunds and please bring plenty of cash.
Always be alert for these RED FLAGs of Identity Theft from your Federal Trial Lawyer:
- You find that there exist accounts in your name which you never opened.
- You find purchases from accounts that you do not remember nor can explain.
- You find purchases made to unknown companies, organizations or people.
- You find inaccurate, flawed, incorrect or fraudulent information on credit reports on any information including any accounts or any personal information, such as the month, day or year of birth, your mother’s maiden name, the name of your favorite pet (Sancho) your Social Security number, the spelling of your middle name, your present or past employers and the years you worked there.
- You find that you are no longer receiving bills for credit cards or other debts, because the Identity Thief changes the address to which the bills are sent to cover his tracks.
- You find that you have been sent a credit card for which you never applied and that my name is on it instead of yours.
- You find that your credit rating has fallen, that you’ve been denied credit.
- You find that you get voice messages, repeated debt letters from bill collection agencies, attorneys (damn them!), or from unique businesses concerning services, merchandise or priceless antique art work you could never afford and most likely didn’t buy even if you were under the influence of drugs, alcohol or Antiques Roadshow.
If you may have been a vicim of identity theft in Clearwater, Florida and believe your information has been compromised this web page has information on what to do next.
As to the legal ramifications of identity theft here is a synopsis of yesterday’s important 11th Circuit Federal Identity Theft decision:
United States v. John Doe, No. 09–15869
( October 26, 2011) Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida John Doe (real name unknown at time of appeal) appealed his convictions for aggravated identity theft, claiming that the government did not produce sufficient evidence that Doe knew the name and social security number he used in applying for a United States passport belonged to an actual person. The Eleventh Circuit rejected this claim, noting that Circuit precedent stands for the proposition that a defendant’s repeated and successful testing of the authenticity of a victim’s identifying information prior to the crime at issue is powerful circumstantial evidence that the defendant knew the identifying information belonged to a real person as opposed to a fictitious one. Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the government, the Court found that a rational jury could have concluded that Doe knew the victim’s identifying information was subject to a detailed verification process when he applied for a driver’s license. Doe’s successes in obtaining not one, but two different driver’s licenses from two different jurisdictions, in addition to opening a bank account and obtaining a debit card from Bank Atlantic, were meaningful circumstantial indicia that Doe knew the victim’s identifying information belonged to a real person, the Court wrote.
The full text of the decision can be found here.
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
Internet Crime Trends
Good News & Bad News About Identity Theft
This unfortunate man was recently the victim of Identity Theft. Now he wonders around Europe trying to find out who it was he was meant to be while confronting mighty windmills.
Honoré Daumier – Don Quixote – 1868 – Where’s Sancho, my golden retriever?