Above the Line

When it rains, it pours…

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If you commit a crime these days – particularly white-collar crime, such as identity theft, or fraud – you’re likely to also be hit with tax-related charges. Take Kathy Chen, for example. Ms. Chen – who, in addition to being a real estate agent, owned a tax service, two financial service firms and an escrow firm – used information gained from those businesses to either steal or create wholly fictitious identities. She – and her alleged co-conspirators – then convinced banks to loan her upwards of $17 million dollars on 35 properties.

The scam was simple – get the loan, make payments for a while, then take off with the money. The losers were the banks, and the individuals whose identities were stolen.

Now, considering that you’re reading about it here, the plan didn’t work out in the end – Chen, after all, was convicted. But interestingly enough, the State of California wasn’t satisfied with merely putting her in jail for fraud – they also convicted her of three counts of filing false tax returns.

Time was when Charlie Martin Smith (as Agent Oscar Wallace) talked of getting Capone for tax evasion and Kevin Costner (as Elliot Ness) chuckled with amusement. While tax evasion – and tax related charges – have been around for a while, they are underutilized as an enforcement weapon. But it’s nice to see the state can pile on when it wants to.


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