Alibi Witness In HSBC Tax Fraud Case Convicted Of 13 Felonies

March 29, 2012

On January 21, 2011, Janika Fernae Bates was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of identity theft, wire fraud and conspiracy to make false claims for tax refunds.  According to the Indictment, Bates obtained the names and Social Security numbers of student loan borrowers from her employer's databases and conspired to use the information to defraud the federal government via fraudulently filed tax returns. Further, Bates and a co-conspirator were charged with using the bogus returns to fraudulently obtain refund anticipation loans from the HSBC bank.

Bates faced a minimum of two years in prison, a maximum of 354 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $6,250,000.

After a five-day trial, on September 23, 2011, Defendant Bates was convicted of 13 felony counts, including identity theft and tax fraud charges. On December 22, 2011, Bates was sentenced to 94 months in federal prison;  ordered to pay $246,064 in restitution to HSBC Taxpayer Financial Services; and ordered to pay $30,211 in restitution to the IRS

The Alibi Witness

Exit Bates - for some 94 months - and enter Nacretia Lewis, who, on January 19, 2012, was  indicted by a federal grand jury in Montgomery, AL for perjury and lying to a federal agent.  Following Lewis's arrest, theIndictment was unsealed on January 24, 2012.

What's the relationship between Bates and Lewis? The Indictment alleged that Lewis testified at Bates's trial as an alibi witness for the defense. Pointedly, Lewis testified that she was with Bates on January 20, 2011, at a place other than NCO Financial Systems Inc (their workplace), at precisely the same time other trial witnesses had placed Bates at that workplace.   After testifying, Lewis met with federal agents and again claimed to have been with Bates as she stated in court.  Seems that the Feds weren't too pleased with what they viewed as Lewis's fabrication and lies. Which would explain why the prosecutors indicted her.

Following her Indictment, Lewis faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

After a five-day trial, on March 27, 2012, a federal jury in Montgomery, AL, convicted Lewis of 13 felony counts involving perjury and lying to a federal agent.

Bill Singer's Comment

It's that time of year: tax season.  It's also that time of year when far too many creative juices start flowing and otherwise honest, law-abiding folks ponder all sorts of ways to underpay or not pay their taxes.  Not that we all don't have such fantasies, but the difference is that most of us fear the IRS far more than any other government organization.  Consequently, grudgingly or not, most of us pay all of our taxes, to the very last penny.  More to the point for the purposes of this column, few of us steal the identities of other taxpayers and file false returns with an eye towards defrauding the IRS - and, further, fewer of us would stand up in court, raise our hand, swear to God to tell the truth, and then lie about the whereabouts of the defendant scamster.

There are three lessons to be learned from the trials and tribulations of defendants Bates and Lewis:

  1. Don't submit bogus tax returns using stolen identities.
  2. If you get caught submitting bogus tax returns, it's probably best to settle rather than roll the dice at court.
  3. Few, if any, folks qualify as good enough friends for you to lie about their whereabouts in court and to federal agents.  If you want to be a good friend, arrange to visit your pals during their incarceration. Don't go that extra mile and spew forth with a bunch of lies under oath in court.

So, as you make your away over to H&R Block this year, make sure that you're going with your tax return and not a batch prepared with stolen identities. Similarly, if you've poured yourself a big cup of coffee as you open your do-it-yourself TurboTax, ask yourself if you truly want to be a guest of Club Fed for eight or so years.

Product Details
Backstage Wall Street: An Insider's Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize Your Investments

Backstage Wall Street: An Insider's Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize Your Investments
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Product Details

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From the Back Cover 

Sure to be a revelation to even the savviest financial professional,Backstage Wall Street is a brutally honest look at the investment business from a veteran who's seen it all. "Reformed" Wall Street insider Joshua M. Brown offers clear and proven advice on how to navigate all the snares set by the lords of Wall Street.