A San Diego tax preparer is facing charges that he used the personal identity information of both current and former clients to commit fraud.
According to a report from San Diego radio station KFMB, 62-year-old Neil Thomsen was hit with an indictment carrying 34 charges because he used the names and Social Security numbers of consumers that hired him to prepare their taxes. Thomsen is accused of using that information to file false tax returns and get fraudulent refunds.
The station said that Thomsen filed enough bogus returns in former clients' names to defraud the IRS out of more than $375,000. He also had false identification documents when he was arrested trying to come into the U.S. from Mexico last month.
Thomsen faces charges of mail fraud, Social Security fraud, passport fraud, identity theft and filing false claims for tax refunds with the IRS. He is being held without bail and is awaiting a trial at the end of August.
This is not the first tax preparer to be hit with identity theft charges this month. According to a report from the Kennewick, Washington, newspaper the Tri-City Herald, a local man was recently hit with an indictment for obtaining about $20,000 in refunds by filing phony tax returns for both legitimate customers and people whom he hadn't worked for.
The report said that Benjamin Sargent plead innocent to several counts of first- and second-degree identity theft that prosecutors say required a "high degree of sophistication and planning." One of his customers filed a complaint with police when Sargent refused to return tax forms from 2008. Further investigation found that he had prepared tax returns for several others, customers and non-customers alike, and requested that their refunds be deposited into his accounts.
One accuser said that she was unaware that the scheme was taking place because she got a sizeable refund in 2008, the report said. She later learned that Sargent allegedly diverted $880 from that return into his own accounts. And despite her not hiring him the next year, Sargent got a return worth $5,728 in her name. Several other victims have come forward telling similar stories, and one never hired Sargent to do his taxes because he has never held a job.