Watchdog

Tax

Free Credit Report Offers... Are They Really Free? - Consumer Alert

Free credit report offers seem to flood the Internet these days. Most companies claiming to give you a free credit report are really looking to sell you something in the long run, such as a credit monitoring service or identity-fraud protection. Once you purchase the service, you will be given a copy of your credit report, usually from just one of the major credit bureaus. Since there are three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax), you will not see the complete picture if you do not receive a report from each one.
Tax

Merrill Lynch Loses $1 Million Court Case

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. has been ordered by an arbitration panel of the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc.
Tax

IRS Announces the 2005 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday unveiled its annual listing of notorious tax scams, the "Dirty Dozen," reminding taxpayers to be wary of schemes that promise to eliminate taxes or otherwise sound too good to be true.The "Dirty Dozen" for 2005 includes several new scams that either manipulate laws governing charitable groups, abuse credit counseling services or rely on refuted arguments to claim tax exemptions.
Tax

Enron Trial Set to Begin in January 2006

Claiming they need more time to prepare, defense attorneys have convinced a federal judge to postpone the start of the main Enron trial until January 2006. The case against Enron founder Kenneth Lay, former CEO Jeffrey Skilling and chief accounting officer Richard Causey is now scheduled to begin on Jan. 17, 2006 with Judge Sim Lake presiding. The three defendants had sought a Dec.
Tax

More than a Thousand Whistleblower Cases Discarded in 2004

Washington, DC — The U.S. Special Counsel has dismissed more than 1,000 whistleblower cases in the past year, according to a letter from the Bush-appointed Special Counsel released last week by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The Special Counsel appears to have taken action in very few, if any, of these cases and has yet to represent a single whistleblower in an employment case.In a letter dated February 14, 2005 and addressed to U.S.
Community News

Defense of WorldCom's Ebbers Begins with Whistleblower

Lawyers for former WorldCom Inc. Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers launched their defense Wednesday afternoon with testimony from the whistleblower credited with alerting WorldCom's board to the massive accounting fraud.Cynthia Cooper, the former head of internal auditing at WorldCom, testified that auditors at Arthur Andersen gave a "green light" rating to the company's accounting for 2000 and 2001, the Associated Press reported.
Tax

Andersen Appeal to go Before Justices in April

According to The Houston Chronicle, the United States Supreme Court announced this week it will hear arguments April 27 on whether to overturn the conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm for obstruction of justice in the shredding of Enron documents. The focus of the appeal will be on how the law was presented to the jury. A decision could come as early as June.Last month the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of the company's June 2002 obstruction of justice conviction.
Tax

ChoicePoint Says Security Breach Widespread

A spinoff of credit reporting agency Equifax acknowleged Monday that criminals may have gained access to consumer information on residents in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories.ChoicePoint Inc.
Practice

Most Companies Get an 'F' in Fraud Prevention

Enron had a code of conduct. Enron had a hotline. And in the end, Enron had fraud. Today, companies operate with a false sense of security because they either don't have a fraud prevention program or the program they have is a legal, yet ineffective "fig leaf." "One key to fraud prevention is to create an atmosphere where employees feel confident in reporting wrongdoing without being victimized, even if executives appear to be involved," explains Toby Bishop, president & CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the largest anti-fraud association in the world.
Tax

SEC Files Emergency Action to Halt Ongoing Fraud by Northshore Asset Management

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced this week that it filed an emergency enforcement action to halt a fraud by Northshore Asset Management LLC (Northshore) and its three principals, concerning their misappropriation of assets of two hedge funds, Ardent Research Partners, L.P. (Ardent Domestic) and Ardent Research Partners, Ltd. (Ardent Offshore).
Technology

New Technology Gives E-Mailers Chance to Rethink Messages

Who hasn't hit send on an e-mail message and instantly wanted to get it back? Whether it contains inappropriate content or private company information, a new product aims to give users a second chance.Forbes reported that a new product from a company called InBoxer (formerly known as Audiotrieve) is on display at the Demo Conference in New York this week. The product, known as OutBoxer, scans outgoing e-mail messages looking for inappropriate content, unauthorized disclosure of information and tries to encourage senders to improve their messages before they actually send them.
Tax

Federal Court Halts Tax Fraud Scam in Missouri

The Justice Department announced this weel that a federal court has barred Janis E. Greehey, of Branson, Missouri, from selling the “corporation sole” and “claim of right” tax schemes. The order, entered by Judge Richard E. Dorr of the U.S.
A&A

IRS Warns: Don't Be Taken In By Tax Scams

The IRS reminds taxpayers not to fall victim to a variety of tax scams. These schemes take numerous shapes, ranging from promises of special tax refunds to illegal ways of “untaxing” yourself. Frequently, taxpayers are charged money for the incorrect advice by those promoting the scheme. If people think something may be unscrupulous, they can report suspected tax fraud to the IRS at 1-800-829-0433.The IRS urges people to avoid these common schemes:Return preparer fraudUnscrupulous return preparers can cause a lot of problems for taxpayers who use their services.
Tax

Miami Businessman Sues Bank of America in Online Banking Incident

Joe Lopez, a Miami businessman who regularly conducts business over the Internet, is suing Bank of America for negligence and failure to provide protection for online banking risks of which he claims the bank was aware. Last April, Mr. Lopez's computer system was hacked into and $90,348.65 was wired from his account at Bank of America to a bank in Riga, Latvia without his approval. Ralph Patino, Mr.
Tax

HealthSouth's Former President Indicted, Faces Financial Ruin, Jail Time

The former president and chief operating officer of HealthSouth Corp., James P. Bennett, was indicted on Thursday for his alleged part in a $2.7 billion accounting fraud that occurred from 1996 to 2002. HealthSouth was the country's largest operator of rehabilitation hospitals.Prosecutors have accused Mr.
Tax

WorldCom Settlement Rejected, Case Headed for Trial

In a surprise decision, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of the Southern District of New York ruled on Wednesday that a provision in the settlement agreement in the class-action case against WorldCom was illegal.
Tax

U.S. Attorney Charges Five with $30M 'Under-the-Table' Payroll Fraud

The Law News Network -- Five individuals have been charged in federal court with participating in a massive tax and insurance fraud scheme in connection with their operation of temporary employment agencies in Southeastern Massachusetts. They are accused of paying employees over $30 million in cash "under-the-table" in order to evade millions of dollars in payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums for their businesses. United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Joseph A. Galasso, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; Kenneth W.
Technology

Identity Theft More Prevalent Offline than Online

The 2005 Identity Fraud Survey Report - released by the Better Business Bureau and Javelin Strategy & Research as an update of the Federal Trade Commission's 2003 Identity Theft Survey Report and Javelin's 2003 Identity Theft Report - shows that despite growing fears about identity theft and online fraud, of the victims that know the identity and method used by the criminal, these crimes are more frequently committed offline than online. Internet-related fraud problems are actually less severe, less costly and not as widespread as previously thought.
Tax

AL Preparers Falsified Information To Increase Earned Income Tax Credit

The Justice Department announced late last week that it has asked a federal court in Montgomery, Alabama to bar Larry Baxter, his tax-return-preparation company, and a former employee from preparing federal income tax returns. According to the government’s complaint, Baxter, his company Baxter and Associates Office of Accountancy, P.C., and former employee Anita Dawkins claim inflated earned income tax credits on customers’ tax returns.
Tax

Get Ready, Get Set, Start Shredding

If fears of identity theft haven't sent you to the nearest office supply store to buy a shredder, a new law may be just the push you need.A law that goes into effect June 1 says that you must “destroy” personal information — shred it, burn it or pulverize it — of all people you employ, even if it's just one person and it's the gardener, USA Today reported.

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