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Articles Posted in Fraud

Necromancy is the act of wielding the dead against the living. Necromancers have the power to manipulate souls or bodies and use them at their will. While necromancy is not real and is more the stuff of fantasy novels, there are some who actually perform necromancy for personal gain. For example, using the social security numbers of dead Americans to file fraudulent tax returns and gain access to stimulus payments that you’re not entitled to is using the dead to for personal gain and profit. 

Now, a 50-year-old Chicago woman is facing 10 counts of wire fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of making false statements to the SBA, and one other count of possessing forged documents with the intent to defraud. However, she is facing zero counts of tax necromancy.

Tax Necromancy

Melvin Ely and Will Bynum, both of whom are former NBA players from the Chicago area, are facing fraud charges related to a scheme involving the NBA players’ health care program. The pair will face charges in a federal Manhattan court where the indictment was unsealed. 

The indictment names 19 defendants, 18 of whom are former NBA players. The former players are accused of defrauding the Health and Welfare program of nearly $4 million. The fraud was masterminded by former New Jersey Nets star Terrence Williams. Williams was paid kickbacks of about $250,000 to actuate the fraud, while players stole a reported $2.5 in personal proceeds.

While the story by now has made it to major airwaves, details of the prosecution are as of yet unknown. The defendants are facing charges of aggravated identity theft, health care fraud, and wire fraud. 

Federal authorities have announced the arrest of two individuals who have been accused of embezzling vaccine cards from their place of employment for sale elsewhere. The first defendant is a registered nurse who stole vaccine cards from her employer at the VA Hospital. Another defendant is facing charges that he purchased counterfeit vaccine cards and attempted to sell them on Facebook. 

The nurse is facing charges of theft of government property and embezzlement related to a health care benefit program. The Facebook guy is facing charges for trafficking in counterfeit goods and fraud related to official government documents. The charges have been filed and prosecuted by the U.S. State Attorney’s office meaning that both defendants will face federal charges for their role in distributing fraudulent vaccine cards. 

The government does not take kindly to those defrauding the system. They contend such efforts place everyone at risk and undermine the efforts of health officials.

A Chicago woman is facing federal fraud charges after posing as the relative of young gun violence victims. In one case, she posed as the relative of a 7-year-old boy who was fatally shot in 2015. The 50-year-old woman posed as the boy’s aunt when she attempted to acquire the boy’s death certificate in 2019 and then filed a fraudulent tax return in the dead boy’s name. 

The same defendant was given an 11-year sentence on similar charges of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. The woman was on supervised release when she was arrested for this crime, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors described the woman as a career con-artist who used her considerable innate abilities to steal from others as opposed to doing something useful to society. The fraud was discovered by an employee at Cook County Vital Records after he noticed that the same woman put in a request for four death certificates on the same day. The woman claimed to be the sister of each of the deceased, but each deceased individual had a different name. A check of the records showed that the woman had placed requests for 37 death certificates all in 2019 alone. Each of the individuals whose birth certificates she requested were recent homicide victims—mostly children. She was able to recover earned income and child tax credits on the deceased children, earning a passive income from her Southside home. The woman was also able to recover several COVID stimulus checks while those were still being issued. 

Two Chicago physicians are charged with prescribing opioids to patients who had no legitimate need of them, according to a federal indictment announced on the Department of Justice’s website. According to the charges, the two prescribed high-dose narcotics such as fentanyl and oxycodone to patients without conducting a meaningful examination or medical tests. The doctors are accused of knowingly dispensing the drugs to patients whom they knew for a fact had no legitimate medical need for high-powered opioids.

Further, the two physicians are accused of colluding after one of the two named in the indictment lost his license to prescribe medicine. That physician used another physician to fill prescriptions, and now they are both going to be charged with fraud, trafficking controlled substances, and more. Another element of the crime is the fact that the physicians sought Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for the improper prescriptions. 

The Opioid Crisis

eBay has become a haven for sports card enthusiasts and other collectors acting as a veritable stock exchange for valuable collectibles. However, not everything that happens on eBay is legal. For example, if you place a bid on your own item or bid up items you have no intention of purchasing, you are committing a felony known as shill bidding. As another example, if you try to sell vaccination cards on eBay, you can be charged with 12 counts of stealing government property.

Chicago pharmacist Tangtang Zhao sold 125 vaccination cards to 11 buyers for about $10 per card. While not quite as lucrative as a Mantle rookie, Zhao pulled in roughly $1,000 from the fraud and will now face charges before a federal magistrate.

When discussing the charges, federal authorities were appalled at the low price Zhao got for the vaccination cards. According to a spokesperson for the FBI, “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”

Chicago Alderman Carrie Austin and her chief of staff are facing federal criminal charges alleging bribery. According to the charges, Austin brokered a deal for a multi-unit real estate development contract. Federal authorities believe that the developer offered Austin home improvements to grease her wheels. Her chief of staff was also offered home improvements. Between them, they acquired new kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, bathroom tiling, new sump pumps, and a brand new HVAC system.

The federal government looks unkindly on businesses offering free services to elected officials, especially when that business went on to win a major contract that was granted with the help of the gift receiver. Austin is the third Chicago alderman to face indictment and the second charged this year. 

On what basis are these charges filed?

The federal government considers fraud of public funds earmarked from natural disaster relief programs a particularly black-hearted crime. A Chicago tax preparer is facing charges that he helped his clients obtain millions in coronavirus relief aid under The CARES Act. While helping your clients secure loans is not in itself a federal crime, helping them secure loans under false pretenses is. Hadi Isbaih is charged with four counts of wire fraud. An indictment returned recently confirmed the charges. 

The government reinforced its commitment to prosecute those who steal from public coffers and deprive those who need the money of much-needed relief. 

Evaluating the Accusations

Annazette Collins has been charged with failing to report income and underreporting income after a grand jury decided to indict her just recently. Collins is facing a five-count indictment related to her political consulting firm. The federal government accused Collins of willfully attempting to hide income streams for the purpose of avoiding taxes

The charges stem from a bribery probe involving embattled former Congressman Michael Madigan. Collins is the latest collateral damage in the corruption probe that is still ongoing. Collins left office in 2013 as a Democrat. She was then hired by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) after her retirement. An attorney for Collins characterized the charges as a “blatant attempt to squeeze Collins” for information concerning the ComEd case. That is probably true. It is unlikely that Collins would have faced these charges (at least now) if there was not a more important case that might involve her.

Collins is not the only former Congressperson facing charges related to ComEd. Recently, Ed Acevedo and his three sons pleaded not guilty in relation to similar charges. If convicted, Collins could spend three years behind bars.

For as many government entitlement programs as there are, there are a number of ways to commit fraud. People commit fraud against the unemployment program, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, social security, and more. Aldermen commit fraud against government initiatives and then funnel the money to their own personal coffers. Now, a Chicago man is facing charges that he conspired with a post office employee to steal economic relief checks from the mail and cash them. 

Akeem Kosoko, 26, is facing one count of conspiracy to steal mail and government funds, three counts of embezzlement of government property, and three counts of receipt of stolen mail. The indictment says that Kosoko conspired with his brother, who was a postal worker, who is also facing a conspiracy charge. The defendants are facing federal charges

Theft of Government Funds

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