Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Nothing like a scheme that involves sending bogus tax refunds to the penitentiary

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this report on the sentencing of a couple of con men who worked up a new scheme to make money off bogus tax refund claims while they were sitting in prison.

The article explains:

"Authorities said Blankenship and Bobby Richardson, while at Buckingham, obtained the names of 33 inmates and their Social Security account numbers - apparently through a prison class that teaches inmates how to write resumes to use in job applications.

The two got the names and numbers to Lee Richardson of Petersburg, who used them to prepare the bogus returns.

The Internal Revenue Service picked up that the returns all listed the same occupation, correctional officer; reported the same income, $28,000; and asked for the same incorrect refund, $7,454. Had the returns been legitimate, the correct refund would have been $3,109, according to court papers.

Authorities said Blankenship, who has a record of tax fraud and financial misdoing, apparently obtained the IRS code number for correctional officer and was able to make bogus wage statements - W-2 forms - using that information and the convict's names.

Surprisingly, the returns all gave the same address for the tax refunds - Buckingham Correctional Center. Authorities said one refund check was sent as a test; the prison sent it back to the IRS with the explanation that it must be a mistake because the addressee was a prisoner."

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