The Washington Post reports that two Washington D.C. government employees have stolen over $16 million in phony tax refunds in a scam that has gone on for at least three years. Harriette Walters and Diane Gustus have been charged
The two employees worked in D.C.’s Office of Tax and Revenue, and were helped by about 40 friends and family members. There were additional participants in the fraud scheme who worked in government offices. Walters and Gustus would create tax refunds for property tax accounts that would be made to appear overpaid, and then checks would be made to sham companies created by conspirators. Co-workers of Walters and Gustus would approve the fake documentation so the checks could be issued.
The fraud was uncovered when a bank employee questioned a $410,000 tax refund check that was brought into the bank in July. The investigation has found that the average amount of the refund checks created in the scheme was $388,000. Many are questioning how such unusually large tax refund checks were never noticed by other employees.