The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) kicked off its annual "Dirty Dozen" awareness campaign about common tax scams for 2018 with a reminder that phishing schemes are still a serious threat to personal information safety, and are evolving. The most recent variation on phishing (previously described here) involves an unexpected deposit into the bank account of a target. Criminals are filing fraudulent tax returns, and directing refunds to be deposited into real bank accounts of victims. The criminals then call the victim who received the deposit and demand the return of the funds as erroneous.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers about a new, multi-layer scam this tax season: erroneous refunds. Criminals are filing fraudulent returns to get money deposited into victims' accounts using data stolen from tax professionals, then posing as debt collection agency officials to request that the victims "return" the money due to an error. Other victims are receiving recorded messages threatening the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges and other consequences if the erroneous refund is not returned.
Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, who formerly appeared on the reality TV series "The Jersey Shore," pleaded guilty to a charge of tax evasion for years in which he concealed a portion of his income to avoid paying the full amount of taxes owed. Sorrentino's brother, Marc, also pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding in the preparation of a fraudulent tax return for underreporting income and providing his tax return preparers with false information.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released the fiscal year 2017 annual report for its Criminal Investigation Division (CI). During FY 2017, CI initiated over 3,000 cases concerning Title 18 and Title 31 crimes, with 72.5% of its investigation time spent on tax matters such as refund fraud, identity theft, abusive tax schemes, and cyber crimes. Its investigations identified $2.5 billion in funds related to tax fraud, and the division had a 91.5% overall conviction rate.
No one is beyond the certainty of taxes, as a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California, discovered last week. Hien Minh Nguyen was sentenced to 36 months in prison for taking cash and checks donated to the Diocese by parishioners and depositing them into his personal bank account to pay for personal expenses. The court found that the priest embezzled a total of $1.4 million from the Catholic Church and, by concealing the embezzlement from his return preparer, evaded over $500,000 in income taxes owed to the IRS.
A group of private business owners have filed suit in a dispute with the IRS over reimbursement for their involvement in a sting operation to identify people filing fraudulent tax returns. "I think it is unusual for the IRS to use a private business in a sting operation," Betty Williams wrote. "If the plaintiffs are not made whole, this is simply a very sad story." Learn more in the Northern California Record, here.
The IRS recently alerted employers to a dangerous new e-mail phishing scam involving false requests for payroll information made through "spoof" accounts. This scam "can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) released its annual report today for 2016. Based on IRSAC's findings and discussions in 2016, the council made recommendations on topics including:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued an urgent warning to tax professionals regarding yet another e-mail scam, this time involving a fake website related to the IRS' e-Services accounts.
Filing tax returns can be stressful, which is one reason many taxpayers hire a trusted professional to handle their returns for them. But what happens if your tax preparer turns out to be less trustworthy than you thought?