It can be entertaining to see an impersonation of a nationally recognized figure or a high ranking government official. Many a late night talk show host has imitated presidents, movie stars and sports figures – all in good fun, eliciting laughs and guffaws from their studio and in-home audiences. (What is not funny about impersonation is when someone commits a crime by pretending to be someone they are not with the intent to deceive and gain a benefit like cold, hard cash.) An article published in The News Herald reports on two fraudsters who impersonated a variety of individuals by filing fake tax returns, getting away with more than half a million dollars.

The story states that the two men behind the scheme worked together to impersonate prison inmates, local residents and others by filing fraudulent tax returns seeking between $3,000 and $9,530 on each return. One of the co-conspirators was actually a prison inmate who provided Social Security numbers and birthdates of fellow inmates disguised as legal case citations. This stolen information was mailed to his partner in crime, who then filed multiple tax returns with false employment information. The refunds were then placed on prepaid debit cards and mailed to multiple locations.

The 33-year-old fraudster, who actually filed the bogus tax returns, will serve 22 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He is also required to pay $107,422 in restitution plus a $4,500 special monetary assessment. The 48-year-old formerly incarcerated fraudster is headed back to jail for another 13 years and a three-year supervised release term. He will also pay $107,422 in restitution and a $2,200 special monetary assessment. (I’m sure his fellow inmates will be thrilled to see him.)

This scheme probably seemed like a great idea to the co-conspirators at the time, but the joke is now on them. The details of this case could serve as perfect fodder for a skit on the antics of not-so-smart criminals. Except this time, these guys won’t be laughing all the way to the bank.

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