An Arizona woman has been sent to jail for six years for masterminding a tax rebate scam which used Facebook to find and target unemployed people for identity theft.
34-year-old Elaine Monique Zavala-Charres of Winslow, Arizona scammed over $400,000 out of the US revenue system, and on top of her jail sentence will have to pay a similar amount, $411,309, back in restitution as well as spending another three years in "supervised release" at the end of her spell inside.
A co-conspirator of Zavala-Charres, 27-year-old Lacey Hollinger of Massena, New York, used social media including Facebook to pick out likely locals, who she then contacted, posing as a government representative working on an economic stimulus program.
"Several dozen" people responded to Hollinger, providing plenty of sensitive personal information for use in identity theft. This information was then passed on to Zavala-Charres, who pooled it with additional data harvested from Arizona locals by other members of the team, and then used the pile of identity info to make multiple tax claims.
Most of the identities used belonged to unemployed people, presumably to minimize the risk that the scam would be spotted early - in many cases of ID theft tax refund scams, the targets are not aware that their information has been taken and made use of until they try to submit their own tax returns later in the tax year. Continue reading at Naked Security....
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