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Tax Scam Time

I usually wander down some blog topic that may sometimes seem like I have wandered off the beaten path. This one is a bit different. Not a gripping story of human life but a practical warning from the IRS.

Because we are in “tax filing season”, the freaks of fraud are out. Like a Halloween costume, they disguise themselves as IRS agents or government officials in an attempt to steal money.

Each year, the IRS releases its “Dirty Dozen” list of top tax scams. Here are the 12 scams highlighted by the IRS this tax season:
•Identity Theft
•Phone Scams
•Phishing
•Return Preparer Fraud
•Offshore Tax Avoidance
•Inflated Refund Claims
•Fake Charities
•Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns
•Excessive Claims for Business Credits
•Falsifying Income to Claim Credits
•Abusive Tax Shelters
•Frivolous Tax Arguments

If you have been contacted with some scam or some amazing tax idea you can:

• Call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040. You can confirm your tax obligations with an official IRS agent.
• Report a suspicious incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) by calling 1- 800-366-4484 or sending an email to phishing@irs.gov.
• Always check the status of your refund after filing

For more information on these warnings go to IRS.gov

And for pic o’ day, I thought I would stay with the thought of “taking a closer look”:

IMG_0674

A Lawyer’s Spam Email

Good Morning Monday! I received another. A spam email asking for money. It makes it sound like a friend traveling is in need and can’t call.

on the pillow

I had read about versions of this email and had received one similar to this a few years ago. Here’s the email that might pop into your email in-box:

   I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we  had to be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a program. The program was successful, but our journey has turned sour. we  misplaced our wallet and cell phone on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight  seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had.

I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed  very grateful if i can get a loan of $2,250 USD or whatever you can afford to spare me from you. this  will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever  you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if  you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest.

Thanks so much

This email came from a named lawyer that I see about once a year. It was even his correct name. Still, I knew this was a falsehood. Despite the nonsense of the email, there are even clues with the grammar and some of the letters. Plus, when was the last time that you saw someone ask for money with “USD” after it?

If you get something like this, then I would recommend to just quickly delete. A good reminder that spammers/scammers are still at work.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting one that might be an old one. It was just sent to me and it made me laugh. Please keep those pic o’s coming please!

cat shoes

Real Estate Scam Story

NBA basketball players are known to make big money. That doesn’t mean that they make good investments. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that players from the Miami Heat were caught in a multi-million dollar real estate scam.

According to recent testimony in an Ohio Federal Court courtroom, witnesses testified that Florida residents invested over 8 million dollars with Haider Zafar. Zafar has been indicted with 135 counts of fraud. The indictment  describes a scheme that he used to swindle money involving a real estate and a promise of amazing profits.

According to testimony, Zafar claimed that his uncle was Pakistan’s defense minister, which gave him the authority to buy and sell property for that country. So, he promised investors like Heat players Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and James Jones that if they invested in Pakistan properties, they would be guaranteed a profit through his contact.  A simple idea, buy low and sell high… to that government.

Unfortunately for them, he had no relative in government and could not promise a profit. Evidence suggests that he also purchased little or no properties. A story that we will probably soon see on some American Greed episode.

For our DID YOU KNOW, it’s another math puzzler. If you take any number between 1 and 9 and multiply it by 9, then the sum of those two numbers will always equal 9. Here’s an example: 7 muliplied by 9 equals 63.  So… 6 plus 3 = 9.   Another????      3 x 9 = 27. So… 2 plus 7 equals….. 9!

And finally in pic o’ day… some courtroom drama?

courtroom drama

 

The Bad Tipper Scam

Three people have been arrested because they were scamming credit cards that were used for food, at a local restaurant. That headline is not very surprising . The method and reason make it “blog fodder”. After the story, I will also list some safe credit card practices that Bankrate.com recommends, to help combat the following fraud.

A waitress in a small restaurant in New Port Richey, Florida, thought that she had come up with the perfect “extra cash” method. When customers would use their credit cards to pay their bill, she would scan the card with a hand-sized electronic device. Then, she would pass the names and credit card numbers to two of her “associates”, who would take the account numbers and manufacturer fake credit cards.

Once the fake credit cards were made, the associates would make purchases at local retailers. It was later determined that these items were then sold elsewhere, for cash.

It all started with the waitress. By her own admission to police, she targeted individuals who either made her work too hard; Or, in her opinion, did not tip generously. When the “ring of three” was arrested, it was determined that they were caught early in the process. She had only targeted nine customers at the restaurant of Mugs ‘N Jugs, with a total theft of $5,753.

The cautionary tale is a reminder to:

1. Try to only use your credit or debit card at reputable merchants;

2. When in doubt, pay with cash;

3. Note red flags such as your card being taken out of your sight for too-long a period of time;

4. Always look at your credit card statement closely for fraudulent transactions. If you have online access to your statement, check it regularly.

5. Report unauthorized use as soon as possible. (This one seems obvious to me but maybe bankrate sees crazy circumstances)

From my experience, I would be concerned about using my debit or credit card at any ATM that was not connected to my bank. Of course, be careful while inputing your PIN number, in case a camera or someone can see it. Don’t keep your pin in your wallet. (I’ve done that) Be cautious about sending your card number with your card issuer 4 or 3 digit personal number.

Even in lawsuits, I don’t list client information in responses to discovery that might be filed in public documents. I always tell defense lawyers, when responding to their interrogatories and production of document discovery; that I will provide information like card, cell phone or social security numbers over the phone.

So, be careful where you write those numbers. Even at the doctor’s office, I would be cautious to put it on one of their “here, fill out these forms” clipboard and papers.

Yep, pic o’ day

 

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