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The dead do tell tales -- to the IRS

Scammers caught after collecting $2 million in tax returns using identities of the deceased.

By Jeff Schnepper Feb 19, 2010 3:36PM

I hear heavenly music from the grateful dead.


I’d be grateful, too, if I were getting $2 million in tax refunds.


No stiffs themselves, Haroon Amin of Upland, Calif., and Ather Ali of Diamond Bar, Calif., filed more than 250 tax returns for deceased individuals.


They went on the Internet and fished for Social Security numbers of dead people. Using those numbers, they created fictitious W-2 wage statements from companies whose employer identification numbers (EINs) they had stolen.

Then they made up and filed tax returns, claiming refunds based on the withholdings not really paid but clearly reflected on the W-2s.


Here’s the surprise -- the IRS paid.

Refund checks were issued and money was transferred to bank accounts in Armenia and Pakistan.


But our caped crusaders from the Treasury Department could only be fooled so long. Amin and Ali each currently face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


The moral of the story?


Don’t cheat or go criminal with your taxes. Even with their second-class computer system, it only takes the IRS and the Social Security Administration nano-seconds to cross-reference identification numbers. IRS computers and those of the Social Security administration talk with each other on a regular basis. Wages reported to the IRS for someone whom Social Security computers show as dead is more than raising a red flag. It’s an invitation to a striped suit.


Eventually you’re going to get caught.


Just ask Amin and Ali, the former knights of the no longer living dead.


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