Web Site Allegedly Stole Job Seekers’ Data in Tax-Fraud Scheme

The New York Times on April 17, 2012 released the following:

“By RUSS BUETTNER

A Web site that promised to connect people with much-needed jobs during the recession was actually a means to steal the applicants’ personal information in a scheme to file fraudulent tax returns, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The site, http://www.jobcentral2.net, listed nonexistent jobs and used applicants’ identities to file the bogus federal tax returns and collect tax refunds, said Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney.

Petr Murmylyuk, 31, a Russian citizen living Brooklyn, preyed upon unemployed people because they were unlikely to have income and unlikely to file a tax return, reducing the chances that the fraudulent returns would draw attention, Mr. Vance said.

“His scheme hurt jobless individuals and society as a whole,” Mr. Vance said.

The ease with which a bogus company can look legitimate on the Internet has created a perfect scenario for fraudulently “phishing” for Social Security numbers and other personal information under various pretenses.

Filing fake tax returns, in particular, is a growing problem. In January, the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department announced that a law enforcement sweep through 23 states had revealed the potential theft of thousands of identities and taxpayer refunds.

The I.R.S. has devoted a Web page to listing enforcement actions involving identity thefts used to fraudulently claim tax refunds. In the most recent case, a woman from Monroeville, Ala., who had conspired with a tax return provider to file bogus returns was sentenced to 75 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million to the federal government.

The most common form of identity theft complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network relates to the filing of fraudulent government documents or benefits.

Mr. Murmylyuk’s site claimed that its job placement services were “sponsored by the government and intended for people with low income,” prosecutors said. He sent e-mails with links to his fake Web site through legitimate job search forums and college electronic mailing lists, they said.

He collected refunds in the names of 108 job seekers, an indictment against him said. The amount collected on each was about $3,500 to $6,500, which totaled more than $450,000. Mr. Vance’s office said that money was stolen from the federal government.

Mr. Murmylyuk recruited 11 students from Kazakhstan, who let him use their bank accounts to cash the tax refunds, according to court documents. Some of the students returned to Kazakhstan shortly after opening the accounts for Mr. Murmylyuk, and were indicted in absentia.

Mr. Murmylyuk, also known as Dmitry Tokar, was charged with money laundering, identity theft and other charges. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the top charge of grand larceny.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey, meanwhile, charged Mr. Murmylyuk on Tuesday with working with a ring that stole $1 million by hacking into retail brokerage accounts at Scottrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, Schwab and other brokerage firms and executing sham trades.

He was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, unauthorized access to computers and securities fraud. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the federal charges if convicted.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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