After pleading guilty to colluding with her son to file fake stimulus checks totaling nearly $150,000, a mother from Modesto, California, faces nearly twenty years in jail.
Sheila Denise Dunlap revealed late last week, according to KTVU in the San Francisco Bay Area, that she and her son, who is on death row at San Quentin, were able to obtain the personal information of almost 9,000 people to apply for federal government-issued stimulus payments in 2020.
Obtaining Information from Non-Filers
Dunlap’s son, known only by the initials D.W., sent her the personal information of his fellow inmates, as well as information on other convicts they suspected of being non-filers for the 2018 or 2019 tax years.
Dunlap used her bank account information to get more than $145,000 in stimulus cheques, according to authorities.
Last May, a federal indictment charged the 51-year-old with participating in a wire fraud conspiracy to file scores of bogus applications for economic impact payments (EIP). The CARES Act, which was passed into law in March 2020 to address the economic repercussions of the current coronavirus pandemic, included the EIP program. At the time, eligible households might receive up to $1,200 per adult and $500 for a qualifying kid.
Dunlap’s sentencing hearing is planned for June 24.
Americans should be aware.
The Internal Revenue Service appears to have been aware of such frauds involving stimulus checks and tax refunds for some time. As a result, the IRS has issued warnings to Americans during tax season.
“With tax season in full swing, identity thieves are targeting people with realistic-looking emails and messages concerning their tax returns and refunds,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement.
“By being aware of these frequent scams, people may avoid becoming victims of identity theft and protect their sensitive personal information, which can be used to file tax returns and steal refunds,” he added.
There have also been numerous cases of people receiving emails or texts from the IRS purporting to be about government-issued stimulus payouts or jobless claims.
“Tax scams have cost tens of thousands of victims millions of cash and their personal information. “Scammers set up individuals, businesses, payroll, and tax professionals using conventional mail, telephone, or email,” the IRS writes on its website.
“The IRS does not approach taxpayers to request personal or financial information via email, text messages, or social media platforms,” it says.
“There was a spike in text messages that impersonated the IRS last year,” the agency said, adding that “these frauds are delivered to individuals’ smartphones and have mentioned COVID-19 and/or stimulus payments.'”