Tax fraud proves to be a rising problem


Many people work hard yearlong tracking expenses, saving recipes and waiting for tax season so they can be rewarded with all of their hard work.

However, there are some people who are not satisfied with their earnings, so they file someone else’s tax returns and take that person’s money.

Tax fraud is hacking into someone’s tax information and getting his or her tax return money sent to one’s account.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, tax fraud has ballooned into a massive and dangerous illegal industry that could cost the nation $21 billion over the next five years.

Sallie Tillman-Watson, owner and CEO of Watson SBT Tax Consulting Group Inc. from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recalled an incident involving a woman who committed tax fraud and is now serving a long prison sentence.

“A lady from Fort Lauderdale managed to obtain $11 million off of tax fraud,” Tillman-Watson said. “She is now serving a 300-year sentence in prison.”

Former Federal Prosecutor Latour “L.T.” Lafferty, head of the white collar and corporate compliance practice at Florida’s Fowler White Boggs, reported in Forbes that in one case, he found an employee had used her smart phone to take pictures of records.

According to Lafferty, identity theft has evolved to a mass level. He believes technology has allowed employees to steal names and numbers in bulk and use them to file large numbers of refund claims.

Steve Byrun, a Tallahassee resident, also said he believes technology advances are aiding in the rise in tax fraud cases.

“Tax fraud has always been around, but it gets worse as technology advances,” Byrun said. “Access to social security is the main target for tax fraud.”

Byrun said he was a victim of tax fraud and is thankful the situation was resolved in a timely fashion.

“I was buying a house, and I was told that I have three motorcycles that are unpaid for under my account,” Byrun said. “Luckily, they solved the problem, but it was some guy named Steven who used my social security [number].”

Lance Farmer, a third-year information technology student from Tallahassee, considers tax fraud to be a selfish and ridiculous crime.

“I think it’s messed up how someone can just take someone else’s hard-earned money,” Farmer said. “The people that do this are obviously only thinking about themselves and not the person or family that could be affected.”