back to article Don't be Russian to judgement but... Bloke accused of $1.5m+ tax filing biz hack, fraud

A Russian citizen has been charged with defrauding US taxpayers out of at least $1.5m through a series of tax-return hacks. Anton Bogdanov, 33, was formally charged this week with wire fraud conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and computer intrusion this week at federal court in Brooklyn, having been arrested in Thailand in …

  1. Kernel Silver badge

    Something's wrong here

    "If convicted, he faces up to 27 years in the slammer. "

    Wouldn't it cost the US taxpayers considerably less if the US government, out of the goodness of their hearts, just gave another $1.5M to those who were defrauded and wrote off the loss?

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Something's wrong here

      Indeed. What's his expectation of surviving that long in a US prison? Shouldn't those lifetime-eating sentences be for criminals who have at least made enough money out of it to fee a proper defence lawyer?

      It's hard to have sympathy for a fraudster, but 27 years would kind-of turn him into a victim! I expect it's more a legal maximum than a practical likelihood?

    2. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: Something's wrong here

      A prisoner in the private prison system xosts the US tax payer about 50k a year. Aside from the slave labour they prisoners provide, such as cheap manufacturing and putting out blazes.

      So one persons 27 year sentence is another persons 2nd home.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Something's wrong here

      "Wouldn't it cost the US taxpayers considerably less if the US government, out of the goodness of their hearts, just gave another $1.5M to those who were defrauded and wrote off the loss?"

      This is America, not some communist state.

      The US government can't go taking money out of the hands of large corporations running the prison system just because it would benefit the taxpayer.

      If the US government want to benefit taxpayers, they give tax cuts. Mostly to the people who run large corporations.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Something's wrong here

        "The US government can't go taking money out of the hands of large corporations running the prison system just because it would benefit the taxpayer."

        That would be basically socialism.

        Even I'm not sure how sarcastic I'm being.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Something's wrong here

          "That would be basically socialism."

          In the US, socialism is just communism wearing fancy clothes. Do you want to let the communists win?

          All these nukes were to STOP communism spreading. We will use them!

      2. Eric Olson

        Re: Something's wrong here

        I bet dollars to donuts that the 27 years is just the DoJ summing up the maximum sentence for each charge and calling it a day. It makes for better theater and satisfies the Law and Order types (TV or otherwise) need for a pound of flesh and an eye for an eye.

        In reality, it never works that way. Besides the sentencing guidelines that are always much less (takes things like prior criminal history into account), it's not uncommon for individual sentences for each guilty or plead charge to be served concurrently. And then there is the reality of no matter the actual jail sentence, the actual time served is less before release (assuming they don't screw up more).

        IANAL, but after the Manafort stuff, Lawyer Twitter, and some other cases lately, this has come up enough that I feel internet confident about saying it. YMMV, and I definitely don't suggest you go citing this in your next legal brief or law blog.

  2. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

    Crucially, these new filings were written in a way that diverted tax refunds to prepaid debit cards

    What kind of demented institution would allow a refund to be paid into a prepaid debit card in the first place?

    1. Paul Kinsler

      a refund to be paid into a prepaid debit card

      Hmm ... perhaps there are people who cannot get a bank account and so use prepaid debit cards instead? Not sure that seems very likely, though.

      1. pig

        Re: a refund to be paid into a prepaid debit card

        I'm sure there are people without bank accounts, but doubt they would be filing a tax return at all, let alone online.

        Allowing the refunds to be paid on to pre-paid debit cards is bonkers.

        Part of my brain screams 'inside help' but then the other, larger, part just says 'stupidity'.

        1. Eric Olson

          Re: a refund to be paid into a prepaid debit card

          There are a lot of free filing sites that will load your refund to a pre-paid Visa or something, precisely because the person in question paid taxes through payroll but doesn't have a bank account. Since employers are required to deduct taxes from each paycheck, it doesn't matter if the person won't make enough to pay taxes, or if they have other qualifying statues or circumstances that get them things like the EITC.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Rip off the US government and then choose to go live in a country with an easy extradition policy. Seems someone wants to headline in the next episode of 'Dumbest criminals...'

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      That covers just about everyone in the UK doing business with companies in the US.

  4. adam payne Silver badge

    The scam went unnoticed for over two years before access was cut off. It's not clear how the scam was spotted: whether the individuals affected complained, or the tax filing company spotted unusual behaviour.

    Almost two years?!?

    Surely someone complained within those two years?!?

    1. Santa from Exeter

      I would have thought that the IRS would have noticed 2 tax returns from the same individual in a given year!

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        "I would have thought that the IRS would have noticed 2 tax returns from the same individual in a given year!"

        You have three years from the date of the original tax return to file an amended return. I'm not an accountant, so I have no idea what sort of circumstances would permit/require that outside of "Oops! I goofed on line 37!" but the procedure to amend is, presumably, there for a reason.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019