Family businesses are common but perhaps not always commendable. Robert Gutierrez, his brother Edward Gutierrez, their mother Judy Lynn McCune, grandmother Loretta Ann McCune, and their aunt Rania Ann Sanchez, were charged in January with making 340 false tax return claims totaling $763,124.
The family didn’t get all the money; court testimony in July revealed that the group cashed in on more than $200,000 in returns. Each defendant was ordered to contribute to paying the amount back to the Internal Revenue Service. All of them also were sentenced to jail terms.
The family used the family research website Ancestry.com to find names and Social Security Numbers of recently deceased people and used the information to file fraudulent claims.
Details are available in an article by Mark Reagan of the The Brownsville Herald at http://goo.gl/G8vbnZ.
Apparently the Internal Revenue Service wasn't smart enough to do the same thing: the IRS sent refund checks without checking the Social Security's Death Master File despite the fact that the death records have been available to the IRS as well as to banks, credit card companies, and to many others for years.
I am always amazed that the Internal Revenue Service issues refund checks without even performing a simple look-up to see if the payee is alive. That look-up could be performed within a few milliseconds on the IRS computers.