Gangs Add Identity Theft and Tax Fraud to Dealing Drugs

Guest post by Nussin S. Fogel.

Gangs across the country are finding white collar crime much easier than dealing drugs on street corners: they’ve learned how to profit from identity theft and tax fraud.

Florida is ground zero for the crime, but the problem is growing throughout the US.

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Torching your car is not a financial plan

Okay, we all get it. You are sick of driving around in that rolling bad decision of an SUV while your bank account cries out for relief. And hey, you could use a fat insurance check to help you pay down your credit card debt. But burning your SUV is not a good plan.

For one thing, police and insurance companies seem to be astonishingly good at finding out. Insurance fraud is a crime.

If you are stuck with a vehicle you cannot afford, sell it. Even if you are upside-down on your loan, it will be a lot easier to pay off the difference than the whole loan. You can probably work out a payment plan with your loan holder, as well, which will make it easier to satisfy the debt.

Saddled With Debt, Some Decide to Torch Vehicles | Washington Post

(image: Maryland State Fire Marshal)

Your landlord could be worse

The Macys, a San Francisco couple, bought a million-dollar, six-unit apartment building in San Francisco, and decided to move out all the tenants and raise the rents (this is, of course, illegal in SF, but the Macys are not the sort of people who worry about legalities).

When the tenants fought the eviction notices, the Macys went horrorshow. They cut out one tenant’s floor supports and started sawing a hole in his floor from beneath. They broke into another tenant’s apartment and stole $2,000, a Gucci watch, and a cell phone, and kicked the tenant in the chest when they were caught in the act.

Attention landlords: just because you own the building does not mean you get to do whatever you want to its inhabitants.

Hundreds of brokers netted in FBI sweep

Hundreds of brokers netted in FBI sweep Arrests include two former Bear fund execs charged with fraud | MSNBC

Former Bear hedge fund managers surrender

Former Bear hedge fund managers surrender Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, who managed Bear Stearns hedge funds before the subprime collapse, charged with lying to investors about mortgage market risk. | CNN Money

F.B.I. opens subprime inquiry

I guess better late than never. The NYTimes is reporting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened criminal inquiries into 14 companies as part of a wide-ranging investigation of the troubled mortgage industry. The F.B.I. is supposedly looking into possible accounting fraud, insider trading or other violations in connection with loans made to borrowers with weak, or subprime, credit. F.B.I. is also cooperating with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is conducting about three dozen civil investigations into how subprime loans were made and packaged, and how securities backed by them were valued.

I am not holding my breath on this ever resulting in more than a hand slap to a few or at most a few peripheral or dying players will get put out of business.

What really needs to happen are two things: serious regulation of the industry as a whole, and real enforcement with the Fed’s sharing authority with the States.

Anytime you cut regulations, cut investigators, prohibit states from even enforcing federal law themselves, and state your going to trust corporations to “do the right thing” it is only a matter of time before things get out of hand.

Corporations can’t help it, they are designed to maximize profit by externalizing costs. If there isn’t a law specifically on point they will do it until told otherwise.