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Criminal Defense Blog

IRS outlines offshore accounts enforcement efforts

The Internal Revenue Service memo is written in the terse, dry voice of the bureaucrat, but its meaning becomes clear as a reader plows through it. The bottom line of the memo about FBAR (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) enforcement is that the IRS wants to improve its compliance efforts. It wants to make sure that those who have in the past failed to report assets in overseas accounts do so now, and that they pay taxes, interest and any penalties owed.

The IRS acknowledges in the memo that it carries the burden of proving that an FBAR violation took place, and when it alleges that the violation was willful, it carries the additional burden of proving that the act was indeed willful. It also describes the processes it will now go through in each open FBAR case to determine what penalties it shall impose and in which instances it will consider criminal referrals.

It's your call

Every business owner knows how tough it can be to inform Orlando residents of the existence of your services and products. Some use print media to inform consumers, other use TV, radio, the internet and some use telemarketing.

Few people truly enjoy calls from telemarketers, but clearly, if the calls didn't generate business for companies, the companies would soon stop making the calls. Unfortunately, some telemarketing firms aren't dialing people for legitimate business reasons, but are instead trying to scam folks. It's also unfortunate that legitimate telemarketing companies are tainted by association with those guilty of crimes involving misrepresentation of products or services, making false claims or otherwise defrauding consumers.

Offshore account reporting deadline looms

For expatriates, June 15 has the ominous quality that April 15 has for most other American citizens. Next week, expats have to file their annual income tax forms. About two weeks later, on June 30, another deadline looms.

On that date, all U.S. taxpayers with qualifying offshore accounts must file an FBAR -- Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FinCen Form 114). It's a day many dread and a filing activity many avoid, perhaps to their detriment.

Silence is golden

Just a short drive south of Orlando, law enforcement officials recently announced the arrests of eight men suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography. Polk County Sheriff's Computer Crimes detectives said the suspects range in age from 21 to 63.

While the allegations they face are disturbing, so too is the frequency with which the suspects discussed alleged crimes with police officers, potentially incriminating themselves. From the brief descriptions of their arrests provided by investigators, it appears that a number of them ignored their Fifth Amendment rights to refuse to self-incriminate and their rights to speak to an attorney.

Teenage prank or felony computer crime?

Most people would describe what the Florida middle-school boy did as a prank. However, law enforcement officials have arrested the 14-year-old for unauthorized access to a computer system which is a felony.

What did the eighth-grader who lives southwest of Orlando do? He got into the school computer network and onto a teacher's computer. He then changed the background image on the teacher's computer to show a photo of two men kissing. Though the student had gained access to test questions and other facets of the system, he never viewed or accessed those files, police said.

Attorney General asked to crack down on Medicare overbilling

The federal government is like a giant octopus with its long arms reaching into the pockets of millions of Americans across the nation. It pulls money out of most pockets and puts money into others in its efforts to provide services and care to people on Medicare and Medicaid.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley thinks too much money is being put into the pockets of Medicare Advantage health plans that taxpayer advocates say are overcharging the government. The privately run insurance plans are growing more popular -- and richer at taxpayer expense, critics say, by overcharging the government by billions of dollars.

Florida man cites U.S. Supreme Court in securities fraud defense

The Security and Exchange Commission is attempting to prevent BBX Capital Corp. Chairman and CEO Alan B. Levan from holding any position as an officer or executive of a publically traded company.

Levan and BBX were held liable for securities fraud and accounting fraud by a jury late last year. The CEO has an SEC fine pending against him for $1.56 million, while BBX faces a $5.2 million penalty. If the ban is enforced by the federal court, Levan will be out at BBX, BFC (majority owner of BBX) and Evergreen Corp. (the timeshare company that owns The Fountains, a resort in Orlando).

Florida concert promoter accused of massive fraud

An Orlando TV station reports that a former Florida concert promoter will be facing white collar charges this fall. Prosecutors say the man's Worldwide Entertainment Inc. was a Ponzi scheme in which investors poured $300 million into the front-end and the defendant took funds from the back end for personal use and to pay off earlier investors. He faces accusations in federal court of fraud and money laundering this November.

The man was extradited from Brazil late last year, where he had apparently lived for a number of years. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, WOFL reports.

'Is that a bad cough or are you taking my savings?'

It used to mean that you had a bad cough or that you drove a taxi at night or perhaps that you penned pulp fiction. Now "hacking" refers to surreptitious and often illegal activities on a computer.

Hackers looking for identifying information on individuals or from institutional data will break into individuals' computers, as well as into the data systems of banks, schools, retail chains, government facilities, credit agencies, insurance companies and just about any other person or place storing valuable information.

Determined not to do damage

A Florida therapist likens pedophilia to schizophrenia and diabetes: there is no cure for any of the conditions. A recent news article noted that "a relatively small percentage of sex offenders are actually 'pedophiles'" -- people who are sexually attracted to children.

Despite the virtually instantaneous negative reaction the word causes in most people, not all pedophiles are criminal. In fact, there is a growing internet support group comprised of people who identify as pedophiles, but say they are determined not to act on their attractions.

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