CNHI News Service

Opinion

February 11, 2013

Tax relief scammer: Where crime does pay

—  

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend.”

    -- Coven (theme from the movie Billy Jack)

---

I saw a “pat on the back” news release from the Federal Trade Commission recently. The headline said, “FTC Settlement: Tax Relief Scammers Agree to Pay More Than $15 million.”

If you go down a couple of sentences, it notes that the scheme bilked consumers out of $100 million dollars.

Crime does pay.  

Making $100 million, with the cost of getting caught at $15 million, is an $85 million profit.

Most business, legitimate or illegitimate, will take an $85 million profit any day of the week.

The seminal book on crime, The Godfather, said, “a lawyer can steal more with his briefcase than 100 men with guns.”

Alexander Seung Hahn, the “leader” of the group American Tax Relief LLC, obviously used some of the $100 million to hire some excellent attorneys as he and American Tax Relief got a sweetheart deal.

In theory, the settlement order imposes a $103 million judgment but, according to the news release, “The judgments will be suspended once the defendants and relief defendants have surrendered assets that total more than $15 million, including cash, a home in Beverly Hills and a condo in Los Angeles, jewelry and gold items, and a 2005 Ferrari.”

In other words, everyone goes away happy as long as Hahn and his people fork over $15 million.

If they had walked into a tax relief center with a gun and robbed it of $85, not $85 million,  they would spend several years in the pokey.   

Instead, they have to suffer the indignity of giving up their Ferrari.

To some in Beverly Hills, giving up the house and Ferrari may be the same as breaking rocks, but it doesn’t seem the same to me.

I have never understood two things. One is why no one has cracked down on the “tax relief” people a long time ago. I rarely watch television, but see their nonstop advertisements. The Internal Revenue Service has a program called an “Offer in Compromise” where it is theoretically possible to have your tax burden reduced, but it is rarely successful.

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