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When the IRS sends you money, it's all yours--right?

When the IRS sends you money, it's all yours--right?
Despite what our anonymous IRS insider claims, fooling the feds is not like winning the lottery. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

Within the fevered and conspiratorial subculture that is the tax protestor's universe there is a long-standing myth upon which nearly all agree: If the IRS sends you the money, then it's legally yours.

In the real world, of course, every sane person understands that this is not the case. Not at all. The IRS publishes any number of detailed warnings about all this. But among the fever-dreamers, such an article of faith it is, that quite often they will, in the attempt to make their point, incriminate themselves even more.

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Enter an "anonymous whistleblower" who purports to be an employee of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations Division. In a printed letter we received yesterday, this mystery fighter-for-justice claimed to have overheard a federal judge conspiring (the anonymous commenter claims in the letter that the judge said, "Don't worry, I will never allow it to be used in a courtroom, his black ass is going to prison!") with federal prosecutors and investigators to railroad one Charles W. Parker Jr., by barring from his trial key exculpatory evidence. "During our investigation we quickly discovered that Charles Parker did not commit any crime," our correspondent writes. "It's up to us to STOP these government criminals from corrupting our whole criminal justice system!"

Parker, a College Park resident, was convicted November in federal court, after a five-day trial, of one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and six counts of filing false tax returns. His method—a well-known scam called the OID scheme—netted Parker and several co-conspirators more than $7 million.

Our anonymous correspondent—who we suspect could be Parker himself—sent a copy of a $1.7 million refund check that the U.S. Treasury sent to an Atlanta couple with whom Parker allegedly conspired. "You can plainly see that over seven of our IRS supervisors manually reviewed, approved, and issued a tax refund check," the anonymous correspondent writes.

Included in the packet is a Byzantine document: "Procedures for Processing Million Dollar Refund Payments." It reads like a cross between a Kafka short story and a reality game show script. Random sample:

  • Step 3 If the Batch ID is "Mill$P," look at line 75 to ensure the return is a million dollar or more payment. If batched correctly, check into Function 210 and hand-walk the batch to Code & Edit.

Reading through all these internal IRS procedures, it comes clear why this transparent scam works (at least in the short term): It's because the IRS is compelled by Congress to send out refund checks before it examines the tax return for fraud—even when the return appears to be bogus on its face, as when an ordinary schmoe—Parker, say—claims that millions he never earned were somehow withheld from his income by the IRS, and so he's due a seven-figure refund.

Parker is due in court today for sentencing. City Paper reached out to Parker's lawyer, and to U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, to ask if—on the extreme long shot that the defendant sent this missive in a desperate attempt to spur a defamatory story and to waste the state's time—would that cause the defendant to be in greater legal jeopardy?

Parker's lawyer did not get back to us right away, but Rosenstein did—deftly sidestepping the question.

"I would be very skeptical about the credibility of such an anonymous letter," he writes. "Even setting aside my knowledge of the character and decorum of the alleged participants, it does not make any sense that such a phone call would occur. I assume that the writer gave you no particulars about the time and place, or other corroborating details, and that you will not publish a defamatory allegation with so little credibility."

The whole sorry show reminds me of Kenneth Watford, an identity thief and luxury car-rustler who called a couple years ago to explain how business really works and blow the lid off the story of how the racist federal government was sending him to a Baltimore jail to make money.

It was a strange fantasy, believing, as he seemed to, that he could make unlimited income by borrowing money under assumed and stolen names and bogus, or reanimated zombie corporations. But, as we have seen, bogus corporations have many uses. Watford was sentenced to over seven years in prison last October for wire fraud and related offenses. He's appealing his conviction, claiming that the court and its officers just don't understand how business law works.

Click here for more from Edward Ericson Jr. or email Edward at eericson@citypaper.com

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