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LA DPPS employee pleads guilty to ste aling clients’ info for tax refund fraud scheme
From: Erica Absetz <eabsetz () opensecurityfoundation org>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2013 12:38:13 -0500


“It’s déjà vu all over again” — noted infosecurity expert Yogi Berra.

Veronico Niko, a former Los Angeles County Department of Public Social
Services employee, has pleaded guilty to stealing names and Social
Security numbers for use in a tax refund fraud scheme.

Niko, her husband Thomas Marshall, Michael Williams, Mao Niko, and
Mike Niko were indicted in January 2012; two of the other four
defendants, including her husband, have pleaded guilty and are
awaiting sentences, while two others are awaiting trial.

According to court documents, Veronica Niko had access to the
department’s LEADER computer system, which, as a receptionist, she was
authorized to use to input applicants’ information for assistance
requests. What she did, however, beginning in July 2009, was to access
the system, take screenshots of applicants’ PII, and print out the
screenshots for her husband, Thomas Marshall, who used the information
to submit fraudulent tax returns. During a search of her residence,
IRS agents found 44 pages of screen prints associated with 132 current
and former assistance participants. In total, the PII of 64 unique
individuals was misused to file 65 fraudulent tax returns through tax
year 2011, costing the IRS $357,704.90.

Niko is not the first to misuse the L.A. County DPSS system for a tax
refund fraud scheme. In February 2011, former social worker Trang Van
Dinh pleaded guilty to misusing his position to obtain applicants’
names and Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns. The
197 returns filed by Dinh sought refunds totaling $2,212,996, and the
IRS issued refund checks totaling $1,156,374.

h/t, AP
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