The Texas Attorney General has filed charges against an East Texas company for allegedly running a scheme that targeted the elderly. The company is facing identity theft and tax fraud charges.
The federal investigation began in December when an 80-year-old woman filed a police report with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office. Investigators claim that recruiters from the company sought out elderly people at churches and senior centers. The recruiters allegedly told the people that they may be eligible for stimulus money. According to investigators, the recruiter then told the people that they would need their Social Security number, birth date, bank account number and a copy of their drivers license in order to file for the stimulus check.
The company allegedly used the personal information to file a false tax return on the elderly people's behalf and without their knowledge. The tax returns stated that the elderly people were entitled to refunds of $1,000 or more. Allegedly, the company instructed the Internal Revenue Service to deposit half of the refund into the company's own bank account and the other half went to the elderly person.
When the IRS discovered that a mistake had been made, the elderly recipient was required to pay back the full amount of the refund to the government. Investigators claim that the company has filed hundreds of fraudulent tax returns. As a result of the investigation, the Attorney General filed an injunction to have the company's assets frozen.
Making a false statement on a federal tax return is a felony and carries serious penalties. A criminal conviction for this offense may be penalized by imprisonment of up to 3 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Source: KTRE, "Texas AG charges E. Texas tax company with tax fraud, ID theft," Gary Bass, January 10, 2013