Exploiting the Dead
Fraudsters don’t discriminate. They target victims of all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life – or death. An article posted on ConnectMidMissouri.com states that a Georgia man used the identities of deceased individuals to steal more than $2.3 million in tax refunds from 17 states.
The story reports that for more than four years, the man bilked $547,000 from the Missouri Department of Revenue by filing fraudulent tax returns using the stolen identities of dead people. (The scam worked so well, he continued to use the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of the deceased to submit claims in 16 other states, adding additional false data such as bogus employment and wage information.)
The 40-year-old man pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He is facing 60 years in prison without parole, a fine of up to $1 million and restitution on top of that. (Depending upon his sentence, there’s a possibility that he may not get out of jail before he dies. How ironic is that?)
This case is an important reminder for anyone handling the estate of a loved one. It is crucial that the state agencies monitoring death statistics be notified of a death. (This usually includes agencies that handle taxation and health services.) Also, any email accounts or social media profiles should be shut down, reducing the chance that a hacker could guess a password and get access to personal information. These actions will go a long ways toward helping to decrease the odds of someone getting away with capitalizing on the death of a loved one.
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