Former NFL players William Joseph, Michael Bennett and Louis Gachelin have been arrested by the FBI and are charged with an identity theft and tax fraud scheme.
The Miami Herald reports that the three are among a group of several people charged with filing false tax returns in other people's names and then stealing their refunds. More details of the scheme are expected to be revealed today, when the defendants are scheduled to appear in a federal court in Miami.
According to the Herald, lax IRS oversight makes it easy to fraudulently receive tax refunds: The IRS often disperses refund money before actually checking to see that the taxes a filer claims to have paid match what the filer's employer withheld. The process the IRS uses eventually catches people who misrepresent their own taxes, but a criminal who steals someone else's identity can receive a refund in that person's name without the victim of the identity theft ever realizing it. By the time the IRS and the identity theft victim discover the erroneous refund, the money has already been taken by the identity thief — and the IRS allows those identity thieves to have the refunds deposited onto prepaid debit cards, which are difficult to track.
Joseph was a 2003 first-round draft pick of the Giants and Bennett was a 2001 first-round draft pick of the Vikings, and the two were teammates in the final season of both of their carers with the 2010 Raiders. Gachelin was a 2004 draft pick of the Patriots who was briefly on their roster but never made it into a regular-season game.