Mar 01, 2011 Brian Bradley
Tax season can be tenuous for individuals and is not a time to put one's sensitive financial records in the hands of an untrustworthy person. That notion was reinforced in Hueytown, Alabama, where authorities arrested Arnold L. Benedict and charged him with making false claims against the United States, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and multiple counts of identity theft, WIAT-TV reports. According to the news source, Benedict filed false claims and used the personal information of customers between 2008 and 2009, during which time he operated his own tax filing service. The U.S. Attorney's office and IRS Criminal Investigations department found that Benedict conspired to file a large amount of false tax returns. "Taxpayers and tax-return preparers who try to scam the government for tax-return money are not only stealing from the government, they are stealing from all the honest citizens who pay their fair share of taxes," U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance told WIAT. If convicted, Benedict could face 12 years in person, including two years for aggravated identity theft. His case shows the need for consumers to select a reputable tax filing service, one that can be trusted not to use personal records for criminal use.