Ever wonder where the criminals who file fraudulent income tax returns get the data they need to scam the government? Consider Jean Baptiste Alvarez, a 43-year-old behavioral healthcare worker who stole daily census sheets from the 267-bed facility where he worked. The census sheets contained all the information needed to steal the identities of patients and submit fraudulent tax returns in their names – Names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other personally identifiable information.
Alvarez could steal the data undetected because the floor where the sheets were kept did not have security cameras. He was paid $1,000 per census sheet by his co-conspirators, who used the information to submit 164 fraudulent tax returns in the names of the patients.
Alvarez was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, misuse of Social Security numbers, and identity theft. He was sentenced to 5 years in jail, 3 years of supervised release, was ordered to pay nearly $267,000 in restitution.
This case serves as a warning to healthcare workers that the theft of patients’ personal information can result in lengthy jail terms. While the Department of Justice is aggressively pursuing cases of PHI theft, identity theft, and tax fraud, however, the number of fraudulent income tax returns submitted in 2018 is expected to more than double the number from the year before.
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