Crime doesn’t pay. Despite using money from crime to temporarily fund a lavish lifestyle, Rashia Wilson of Tampa, Florida, learned her lesson the hard way before a Federal District Court Judge in July 2013 when she was sentenced to 21 years of prison for Tax Fraud and Weapons Charges. She is also ordered to pay restitution of more than $3 million. At the time of sentencing she was just 27. When she is released, her children, currently all in elementary school, will all have graduated from high school. Her youngest child will be 23.
While Wilson was briefly able to cash in on her crimes before landing a record prison sentence, the details of her spree read like a “What Not To Do” map when stealing from the government. If you’re one of those folks pondering how best to stay out of jail, here are a few tips:
1. Don’t steal. That should be obvious but clearly, it’s not. Stealing from the government – in particular, identity theft – is on the rise and as a result, the IRS put identity theft resulting in tax fraud at the top of its list. In the scheme, thieves like Wilson access your personal information including your name, address and Social Security number to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund without your consent. Wilson gleaned much of the information she used to file fraudulent returns from medical records: in addition to printouts of medical records, investigators found thousands of ID numbers at her home.
In order to combat this level of fraud, the IRS now has 3,000 people working on identity theft related cases, more than twice the number from two years ago. So they’re watching you. If, on the other hand, you believe you are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
2. If you did steal, don’t talk about it. Wilson had a big mouth. She liked to talk about herself and her money. She also liked to throw it around. She used the millions she stole from others to finance a showy lifestyle, including $30,000 on her 1-year-old’s birthday party, and $90,000 on a 2013 Audi (which she bought using a money order). She wanted to show off. And that’s exactly how she caught the eye of investigators. Her behavior prompted U.S. District Judge James. S. Moody Jr. to remark at her sentencing, “She knew what she was doing was wrong. She reveled in the fact that it was wrong.”
3. If you did steal, don’t expect your privacy settings on Facebook or use of a fake name to protect you. I don’t care what you think you know about privacy settings, when you put something out there on Twitter or on Facebook, it’s not protected. As a taxpayer, that means you should avoid posting personally identifying information like tax ID numbers and your address (the IRS Facebook page won’t allow you to post comments for that reason). And you should certainly avoid posting photos of yourself surrounded by stacks of cash with such gems as:
I’m Rashia, the queen of IRS tax fraud. … I’m a millionaire for the record. So if you think that indicting me will be easy, it won’t. I promise you. I won’t do no time, dumb b——.
I’M RASHIA, THE QUEEN OF IRS TAX FRAUD… I’m a millionaire for the record, so if U think indicting me will B easy it won’t, I promise you! U need more than black and white to hold me down N that’s to da rat who went N told, as if 1st lady don’t have da TPD under her spell. I run Tampa right now.
Granted, that feels like it’s written in code but if you can fumble your way through it, you get the gist. And yes, in case you’re wondering, Wilson isn’t college educated. Or high school educated. Or even middle school educated. She failed the 5th and 6th grades and that’s as far as she got. A lack of punctuation and, heck, let’s face it, actual consonants and vowels, didn’t hold her back from blasting authority figures on Facebook. Turns out, they were paying attention.
Investigators worked for two years to gather evidence against Wilson and a host of other fraudsters as part of Operation Rainmaker so dubbed because of the amount of money that was raining down. Included in that group was Wilson’s boyfriend, Maurice “Thirst” Larry, and a friend, Marterrence “Quat” Holloway.
4. Don’t assume that your luck won’t run out. Born into poverty to a coke addict and a father in prison, Wilson quickly glommed on to a life of crime. She dropped out of school in the 7th grade. Since then, she has been arrested 40 times and held felony convictions for grand theft and burglary, but never did any time in a state prison. She came to believe that her streak would continue, bragging to practically everyone that she would never do any time. That streak ended July 2013.
5. Hire tax counsel now. The sooner you hire tax counsel experienced in criminal tax matters, the higher the chance that further escalation of your case in the criminal arena could be avoided or limited.
Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and elsewhere in California defend you from the IRS.
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