Richard A. Lindsey, CPA

Lindsey & Waldo, LLC – Certified Public Accountants

  • Dec 31

    Last year, in Phenix City, Alabama, tax preparer Lasondra Miles Davis was ordered to pay $1,941 in restitution to the IRS, sentenced to two years in prison, and one year of supervised release for her involvement in a stolen ID tax fraud.

    Davis pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated ID theft. Her mother, Teresa Floyd pleaded guilty earlier in the year to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and one count of aggravated ID theft.

    News outlets cited court documents that said that between March 2011 and May 2014, Davis and her mother operated several tax preparation businesses where she obtained stolen IDs. Floyd then used the information to file more than 900 false federal income tax returns that claimed more than $2.5 million in refunds.

  • Jun 10

    Between January 2011 and February 2013, Patrice Taylor, an Albany, Georgia resident, conspired with her husband, Antonio Taylor and Jarrett Jones to file over 1,100 fraudulent tax returns. At least 1,089 of the returns were e-filed from two IP addresses registered to Taylor, both located at her home. Patrice was employed at Tift Regional Hospital and used the personal identifying information of five patients to file fraudulent federal income tax returns. Taylor also used the identities of 531 sixteen-year olds to file fraudulent returns.

    The individuals were sentenced to prison terms up to 147 months and ordered to pay restitution to the IRS totaling $2,310,563.

    In Tampa, Florida, law enforcement officers recovered lists and medical records containing the personal identifying information of more than 7,000 victims.

    In Montgomery, Alabama, Keisha Lanier and Tracy Mitchell were sentenced for their roles in a large-scale identity theft ring that filed more than 9,000 false federal income tax returns that claimed more than $24 million in fraudulent refunds. The defendants obtained the stolen identities from various sources, including from the U.S. Army, several Alabama state agencies, a Georgia call center and employee records from a Georgia company.

    Identity theft is growing worse every year. The Federal Trade Commission reported that it has been the top consumer complaint for 16 years straight.

    “Tax-related identity theft is an evolving criminal activity that can happen to anyone.” Rep. Jim Renaccie, R-Ohio, CPA turned lawmaker, said in a statement last month. “In fact, last tax season, my identity was stolen and used to file a fraudulent tax return.”

    In the U.S., someone dies every 7 seconds but there is an identity theft victim every 2 seconds. Seventy percent of those whose identities are stolen need the help of an attorney to resolve the issue. Costs can run into the thousands as well as hundreds of hours of your time.

    Being a victim of identity theft is no picnic. But it is a major warning sign to take action. If you have been a victim, it is self-evident that your information is being bought and sold. Few victims have the highly technical skills and complex tools required to find where their data has been spread and to stop it.

    Ideally you need to have a plan in place before the theft. Unfortunately, most don’t. Fortunately, it’s not too late to protect yourself from further breaches. If you have been a victim, or know someone who has, and would like a referral to someone I know and trust to help, give us a call, or shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to put you in touch.

  • Apr 15

    The theft of your identity, especially personal information such as your name, Social Security number, address and children’s names, can be traumatic and frustrating. In this online era, it’s important to always be on guard.

    The IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure you understand the dangers to your personal and financial data. Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

    Here are seven steps you can make part of your routine to protect your tax and financial information:

    1. Read your credit card and banking statements carefully and often– watch for even the smallest charge that appears suspicious. (Neither your credit card, nor bank– or the IRS—will send you emails asking for sensitive personal and financial information; such as asking you to update your account.)
    2. Review and respond to all notices and correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service. Warning signs of tax-related identity theft can include IRS notices about tax returns you did not file, income you did not receive, or employers you’ve never heard of or where you’ve never worked.
    3. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports.
    4. Review your annual Social Security income statement for excessive income reported. You can sign up for an electronic account at www.SSA.gov.
    5. Read your health insurance statements; look for claims you never filed or care you never received.
    6. Shred any documents with personal and financial information. Never toss documents with your personally identifiable information, especially your Social Security number, in the trash.
    7. If you receive any routine federal deposit such as Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, you probably receive those deposits electronically. You can use the same direct deposit process for your federal and state tax refund. IRS direct deposit is safe and secure and places your tax refund directly into the financial account of your choice.
  • Nov 15

    Identity theft is on the rise. Even though measures are being taken by the IRS and legislators, not all identity theft can be prevented, but an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

    In January 2012, Marsha Elmore, an Alabama tax return preparer, was sentenced to 184 months in prison for filing false claims, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Elmore admitted to stealing tax refunds by filing false tax returns using stolen identities, including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth. She was ordered to pay over $1 million in restitution to the IRS.

    Take the following preventative measures to decrease your chances of becoming the next identity theft victim. It will be easier to put these precautions into place than to face the consequences and headaches of having your identity stolen.

     

    • Arrange to have your social security number masked where possible (such as insurance cards);
    • Watch your credit reports from the major credit bureau sources- such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion;
    • Resist giving businesses your social security number, or other personal information;
    • If you receive any information from the IRS make sure to forward it to us, your CPA, as soon as possible.  If you receive an email, from what appears to be the IRS, do not open any attachments or click on any links.  This is a phishing email and someone could be trying to steal your identity.  Remember, the IRS will NOT contact you by email;
    • Safeguard social security numbers in a secure place and do not discard any documents with social security numbers or personal information before taking the time to shred the documents;
    • File all tax returns, personal information, and documents in a locked safe or filing cabinet; and
    • Protect your personal computer by using firewalls, anti-spam, or anti-virus software.

     

  • Oct 4

    Millbrook, Alabama resident Janika Bates obtained names and social security numbers of student loan borrowers from electronic databases of a former employer, and used them to make false claims for tax refunds. Bates was sentenced to 94 months in prison following her conviction of aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy to make false claims for tax refunds.

    But what about the victim?

    The consequences of having your identity stolen can be numerous. If your identity is stolen, your tax refund will be more than likely held up by the IRS. A victim sometimes won’t see his refund for a minimum of eleven weeks, or until he can convince the IRS that he really is a victim of identity theft. The burden of proving you have become a victim of identity theft is primarily placed on you. An identity theft victim is faced with the possibility of lost job opportunities, being refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even being arrested for crimes he didn’t commit.

    Over the past year the IRS has put filters into place to address different issues or flags of identity theft. In 2012, the IRS planned on spending approximately $330 million to fight against identity theft, but due to limited resources additional funds are needed. The filters that were placed in service this last year help to differentiate justifiable returns from counterfeit ones and prevent recurrence. If a return is caught by a filter, it is reviewed manually to validate the information. To validate the information the IRS may contact the taxpayer to verify the correct information, or the IRS may send a correspondence audit notice to the taxpayer.

  • Sep 5

    “People describe it as cocaine on a card.” That’s what a South Florida federal prosecutor told a CBS affiliate in Miami last year. He also said, “it’s a lot of money and people are having parties in their homes and training 50 to 100 others how to commit tax identity theft.” The prosecutor described it as “an epidemic.”

    What is tax identity theft? Tax identity theft is when someone else uses your name and social security number without your permission to commit fraud on tax returns to claim refunds and/or credits to which a taxpayer is not entitled. The number of victims has been rapidly increasing over the past couple of years. As of March 2012 the IRS was tracking nearly 300,000 identity theft cases with Florida having the highest rate of this type of fraud. So, as our friends and clients, we would like to take the time to inform you about identity theft and how this happens, the consequences it can cause, how identity theft is caught, what the IRS is doing to help with the issue of identity theft, what to do if your identity is stolen, and some prevention techniques to help protect yourself from becoming the next victim of identity theft.

    Identities are stolen several different ways. Some of the ways identities are stolen include, but are not limited to, email phishing, telephone phishing, and dumpster diving. The thieves look for discarded tax returns, bank records, credit card receipts, and any other records containing personal and financial information. Usually these thieves file early in the tax filing season, so they can file before the victim files her return. The victim typically finds out her identity has been stolen after she files her return or she receives a letter from the IRS stating more than one return was filed with the same social security number or wages that were under reported on the return. When the victim finds out her identity has been stolen, the tribulations can be long and troublesome.