Stealing from Toys for Tots, inflated refunds, Honduran birth certificates and more from our favorite recent cases.

Auburndale, Fla.: Local resident Tammy Strickland, 38, has been arrested on charges of stealing toys from Toys for Tots.

Listed as a preparer and the owner of Refund Max Tax Services, Strickland allegedly stole the toys to use as giveaways in her prep service, according to published reports.

Authorities, who repeatedly referred to her as a “Grinch” when reporting the arrest, learned that Strickland submitted a large number of applications requesting assistance from the organization on behalf of dozens of children. Detectives found that the applications were counterfeit and that Strickland, a former volunteer for Toys for Tots, used 140 fictitious children’s names and 28 fake adult names on applications.

Undercover detectives arranged to meet Strickland at the Toys for Tots warehouse for her to collect the donations. Authorities arrested Strickland when she arrived in a 2005 Cadillac and with the help of several family members began loading the toys. Detectives later searched Strickland’s home and found another 118 toys.

Other charges are possible against Strickland, who has a criminal record going back 10 years and who was charged in this case with grand theft, 28 counts of providing false statement to obtain credit/property, obtain property by fraud and 164 counts of using fake identification.

Chester, Va.: Preparer Crystal Charmae Richards, 44, has been indicted on charges related to her alleged role in filing false returns.

According to the indictment, Richards and another individual, David Wayne Schneider, worked as preparers from 2011 through 2015, during which time they regularly prepared returns on behalf of clients that falsely claimed dependents, small-business income or losses and education credits to inflate clients’ refunds.

Richards also used the IDs of certain clients without their knowledge or permission to file returns that generated refunds, which Richards pocketed.

Schneider pleaded guilty on Jan. 27 and was sentenced to 24 months in prison; he was also ordered to pay $515,104.74 restitution to the IRS.

Green Bay, Wis.: Former preparer Moises Alcazar, 34, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison and an additional year of supervision and been ordered to pay $766,400 restitution for perpetrating a pair of tax frauds.

Alcazar pleaded guilty in October to assisting in the preparation and filing of false income tax returns while operating Alcazar Tax Services from 2006 to 2012.

As part of a plea agreement, he acknowledged running a pair of related tax frauds involving 128 false returns and costing the federal government $766,400 in tax revenue. According to court records, Alcazar helped clients illegally inflate refunds by advising clients to claim additional dependents on their federal returns even if they were ineligible. This scheme caused a total tax loss of $272,262.

He also used ID cards and birth certificates of Honduran nationals that were supplied by foreign co-conspirators to create fabricated returns. This scheme caused a tax loss of $494,138.

Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson is a veteran freelance journalist who previously served as editor of The Practical Accountant.