U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash.
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IRS Criminal Investigation See Surge in Scams Tied to Economic Impact Payments - 09/09/21

IRS Criminal Investigation sees surge in scams tied to Economic Impact Payments

SEATTLE — The Internal Revenue Service received a record number of complaints about Economic Impact Payment scams in June and July 2021.  This number of scam complaints has not been seen in more than a decade!

“In today’s world, the protection of our personal information is tied to our well-being,” said IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI) Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin. “As threats against our personal information continue to rise, so must our vigilance in protecting that information. IRS:CI continues to safeguard this information from those who wish to steal it, but we need your help in being wary of potential scams and reporting them.”

Acting United States Attorney Joseph H. Harrington said, “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington remains committed to prosecuting aggressively Economic Impact Payment (EIP) fraud. We will work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute any fraudsters who seek to capitalized on the COVID-19 pandemic by trying to cheat Washington residents out of relief money.”

Phishing scams attempt to mirror legitimate IRS communications with the goal of convincing unsuspecting taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment. This information is then exploited by scammers. 

Recent scam reports include: 

  • Text messages stating that a taxpayer is eligible for a “stimulus payment” and they must click on a link to complete the necessary information to claim it. 
  • Phishing emails claiming the IRS has calculated a taxpayer’s “fiscal activity” and they are eligible for an Economic Impact payment in a specific amount. 

Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not threaten individuals with jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency. 

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for grammatical, capitalization and spelling errors in emails and texts, which serve as fraud indicators. Taxpayers should also exercise caution when clicking shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages.

Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to phishing@irs.gov. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.

Taxpayers can report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft as a result of a scam, visit the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft to know what steps to take. 

To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes, visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.

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Samples of IRS Impersonation Emails and Text Messages 

Richland Medical Doctor Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Other Controlled Substances - 09/02/21

Spokane – Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Dr. Janet Sue Arnold, age 63, of Benton City, Washington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute opioid pain medications (specifically, fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, methylphenidate, and amphetamine mixture) and other controlled substances (carisoprodol and alprazolam), without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.  Dr. Arnold faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years.  United States District Judge Edward F. Shea accepted Dr. Arnold’s guilty plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for December 7, 2021, at 1:15 p.m. in Richland, Washington. Dr. Arnold is the final defendant to plead guilty in the case.  Four other defendants, Danielle Corine Mata, age 44, of Richland, Washington, David Barnes Nay, age 43, of Kennewick, Washington, Lisa Marie Cooper, age 55, of Prosser, Washington, and Jennifer Cheri Prichard, age 46, of Prosser, Washington, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute opioid pain medications and other controlled substances, and are scheduled to be sentenced on October 19, 2021, November 2, 2021, and November 9, 2021, in Richland, Washington. 

According to court documents and information disclosed during court proceedings, Dr. Arnold owned and operated Desert Wind Family Practice, at 431 Wellsian Way in Richland, Washington.  Beginning in approximately March 2016, and continuing until May 3, 2017, Dr. Arnold pre-signed hundreds of blank prescription forms and provided them to Mata, Prichard, and Cooper, who were drug addicts. These individuals then provided the illegal prescriptions to individuals seeking opioids and other controlled substances or used the prescriptions to get their drugs of choice.  Dr. Arnold allowed Mata, who also acted as Desert Wind Family Practice’s office manager, to fill in all the required prescription information (patient name, drug type, dosage, and quantity) on the pre-signed blank prescriptions.  Dr. Arnold’s practice of pre-signing blank prescription forms enabled the conspirators, including Nay, a drug dealer and addict, to distribute significant quantities of opioid medications and other controlled substances. 

Acting United States Attorney Joseph H. Harrington said, “Dr. Arnold abandoned her role as a medical doctor by essentially turning over her prescription pad to her office manager and others.  Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning to all medical professionals that if you abuse your medical license by prescribing opioids and other drugs without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, you will be held accountable. I commend the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, agents who investigated this case.” 

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.  This case is being prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III and Dominique J. Park, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington. 

 

4:18-CR-06044-EFS

Woman Sentenced to 70 Months in Federal Prison for Assault with a Dangerous Weapon - 08/24/21

WOMAN SENTENCED TO 70 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON

Spokane – Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Kathleen Joy Yallup, age 45, of Parker, Washington, was sentenced today after having been found guilty on April 21, 2021, of assault with a dangerous weapon following a three-day jury trial. United States District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr. sentenced Yallup to a 70-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 3-year term of court supervision after she is released from federal prison.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, Yallup stabbed the male victim multiple times in the face and chest during an argument inside his car on January 10, 2020, in Parker, Washington, which is within the external boundaries of the Yakama Nation.  Shortly after the assault, Yallup was arrested by Yakama Nation Police officers. 

Acting United States Attorney Harrington said, “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington commends the law enforcement officers with the Yakama Nation Police Department, Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated this case. Violent crime in the external boundaries of the Yakama Nation is extremely serious and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington will prosecute vigorously any individuals who may engage in such conduct.”

This case was investigated by the Yakama Nation Police Department, Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Benjamin D. Seal, and Matthew A. Stone, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.

[1:20-CR-2005-SMJ]

Man Sentenced to 70 Months in Federal Prison for Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury - 08/24/21

MAN SENTENCED TO 70 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR ASSAULT

WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON AND ASSAULT RESULTING IN SERIOUS BODILY INJURY

Spokane – Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Bruce Warren Sampson, Jr., age 38, of Toppenish, Washington, was sentenced today after having been found guilty on May 6, 2021, of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury following a four-day jury trial. United States District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr. sentenced Sampson to a 70-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 3-year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, Sampson beat and kicked the male victim in the head and chest causing grievous injuries, including eight broken ribs, traumatic brain injury and a broken eye socket. The victim was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington for treatment. The assault occurred in Sampson’s hotel room in Toppenish, Washington, which is within the external boundaries of the Yakama Nation.  Sampson initially denied any knowledge of the assault and at trial claimed to have acted in self-defense. Sampson’s claim of self-defense was rejected by the jury.  

Acting United States Attorney Harrington said, “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington commends the law enforcement officers with the Yakama Nation Police Department, Toppenish Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated this case. Prosecuting violent crime occurring on Indian Reservations in the Eastern District of Washington is a major priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

This case was investigated by the Yakama Nation Police Department, Toppenish Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Richard Burson, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

[1:20-CR-20022-SMJ]