$4 Billion: Bogus Tax Refunds a Growing Problem

Friday, April 11, 2014 • B 3
Cash-strapped Hamas Turns to E-bullets $4 Billion: Bogus
Tax Refunds a
Growing Problem
BY IBRAHIM BARZAK
Associated Press
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip • In
a long hallway that looks more
like a videogame arcade than a
military base,Hamas security
forces are holding target practice using assault rifles fitted
with lasers — all without firing
a bullet.
For the cash-strapped
Hamas government, the system is a much-needed money
saver that eliminates the need
to train with live ammunition,
which is in short supply in
Gaza.Hamas also says the quiet,indoor facility is less likely to
attract the attention of the Israeli military than the open-air
firing ranges that are frequently targeted in airstrikes.
“Our training centers are
targeted all the time by the occupation,so we have a closeddoor shooting range that is
hidden from the occupation,”
said Abdallah Karmot, the
deputy director of training at
Hamas’ Interior Ministry,
which oversees security in the
seaside strip of land.“We also
save money and the time it
takes to move officers to training camps for live shooting.”
Karmot said Hamas developed the electronic shooting
range with homegrown technology.The modified Kalashnikovs, powered by software
developed by Hamas programmers, fire green laser
beams at their targets, which
mimic the sound of real rifle
fire when there is a direct hit.
The move indoors is the latest sign of the deep financial
crisis plaguing Hamas, which
BY ERIC TUCKER
Associated Press
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Palestinian security officer Muhmmad Debo, 22, practices with an electronicallymodified AK-47 rifle at the headquarters of the security training department of the
Hamas interior ministry in Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Thursday.
is suffering its worst money
woes and ammunition shortage since taking power. Israel
and Egypt have maintained a
blockade of the seaside strip
since Hamas seized power
from the rival forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas in 2007.
Israel considers Hamas a
terrorist organization responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and
other attacks. Israel and
Hamas have engaged in heavy
fighting over the years, most
recently an eight-day battle in
2012 in which Hamas fired
hundreds of rockets into Israel.
Under the blockade, Egypt
looked the other way for years
as cement, fuel and weapons
were smuggled into Gaza
through a network of tunnels
running under the border with
Egypt.
That changed last summer
after the Egyptian military
overthrew the country’s Islamist president,Mohammed
Morsi. Egypt’s new military
government cracked down on
Hamas, the local offshoot of
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood
movement, and destroyed
nearly all of the tunnels.With
the tunnels out of operation,
Hamas lost a key source of tax
revenue and a main conduit for
weapons.
“Due to the Egyptian crackdown on the tunnels, we can
talk about some sort of arms
crisis facing all the armed
groups in Gaza, as well as the
security forces that used
smuggled supplies in the past,”
said Adnan Abu Amer, an expert on Palestinian militant
groups at Gaza’s Al Ummah
University.
He said the prices of some
weapons have nearly doubled
in recent months,and the price
of ammunition has tripled.
“The most significant result of
the tunnel demolitions has
been the scarcity of weapons,
ammunition and explosives,”
he said.
WASHINGTON • An Internet connection and a
bunch of stolen identities
are all it takes for crooks to
collect billions of dollars in
bogus federal tax refunds.
And the scam is proving too
pervasive to stop.
A government report in
November said the IRS issued $4 billion in fraudulent
tax refunds over the previous year to criminals who
were using other people’s
personal information. Attorney General Eric Holder
said this week that the
“scale,scope and execution
of these fraud schemes”has
grown substantially and the
Justice Department in the
past year has charged 880
people.
Who’s involved? In a
video message released
ahead of the April 15 tax filing deadline, Holder said
the scams “are carried out
by a variety of actors, from
greedy tax return preparers
to identity brokers who
profit from the sale of personal information to gangs
and drug rings looking for
easy access to cash.”
Even Holder isn’t immune. Two men pleaded
guilty in Georgia last year to
trying to get a tax refund by
using his name, Social Security number and date of
birth on tax forms.
The IRS says it opened
nearly 1,500 criminal investigations related to identity
theft in fiscal year 2013,a 66
percent increase over the
previous year, and has
strengthened filters that
help detect where the scams
are coming from. It says it
stops far more fraudulent
refunds than it pays out and
is making a dent in the
problem.
Still, the schemes have
grown more sophisticated,
attracting criminals with
violent backgrounds who
see an easy and safe vehicle
for theft, according to law
enforcement officials who
fear that not enough controls are in place.
“I’ve been on calls with
Alabama, Chicago, some
other field divisions, where
they’re now experiencing
people who were from
Florida and now moving to
other states to conduct this
same type of fraud,” said FBI
Supervisory Special Agent
Jay Bernardo, who works
fraud cases in south Florida.
“Based on the parameters
that are in place now,” he
added, “it’s very difficult to
stop.”
OBITUARIES
SERVICES
Marianne Edna Fisher
Donna Norton Okelberry
WENDELL • Marianne Edna Fisher, 94, a resident of
Wendell, passed away
Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at
the North Canyon Medical
Center in Gooding.
Marianne was born Feb.
20,1920,to Lola Mae and Alva Emerick in Hillsboro,Ore.
They moved to Huntington,
Ore., in 1928, where she attended elementary school
and completed three years of
high school. They then
moved to Twin Falls, Idaho,
where she completed high
school in 1938. After high
school, she attended and
graduated from beauty
school in Twin Falls.
In 1940, she moved to
Portland, Ore., and married
Earl Oney. They were divorced in 1947. In 1950, she
married Willard A. Berry.
Willard passed in 1968. In
1971,she married Wendelin F.
Fisher,who passed in 1971.
Marianneissurvivedby:her
daughter, Penelope (Rick)
Cheek and son,Patrick (Jodi)
Berry; two grandchildren,
Ronald and Cristianna; one
step-grandchild, Brenda;
great-grandchildren, Arron,
Aleshia and Andrya LaFleur,
Tiffany, Courtney, Timothy,
Emery and Naomi Palm,and
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah
• Another great lady has
left this life for a better
one. Donna Norton Okelberry of Declo, Idaho,
quietly passed away at her
son’s home in Salt Lake
City, Utah, on Monday,
April 7, 2014.
She was born Nov. 7,
1927, in Zurich, Mont. On
July 16, 1947, she married
Myron D. Okelberry in the
Idaho Falls Temple. They
had eight children. Family
was her greatest treasure.
She worked for several
years at Simplot Potato
Plant in Heyburn, Idaho.
She served a full-time
LDS service mission at
Deseret Industries. She
was a member of The
Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints and, for
more than 30 years,
served in various callings,
including touching the
lives of many children in
the Primary. She loved to
crochet and shared that
talent with others. She
made many treasures for
her children and grandchildren, as well as some
charities. She made many
booties for Birthright.
Donna had the privilege
Feb. 20, 1920-April 9, 2014
Alexandria Estes; one step
great-granddaughter,Areena
Campos;andnumerousnieces
andnephews.Shewasprecededindeathbyherparents;husbands; and two grandchildren,
Vicki and Tomas.
She was a 25-year member
of the Rockaway Beach Lioness Club, earning many
awards.She was a resident of
Rockaway Beach, Ore., for
30-plus years before moving
to Wendell,Idaho,in 2009.
At Marianne’s request, no
public service is planned.
Arrangements are under the
care and direction of Demaray Funeral Service,Wendell Chapel.
Condolences may be sent
to the family by visiting the
obituary link at www.demarayfuneralservice.com.
Nov. 7, 1927-April 7, 2014
Wilma Ilene Gribble of
Gooding, funeral at 2 p.m.
today, April 11, at Demaray
Funeral Service, Gooding
Chapel; visitation from
1-2 p.m. today at the funeral chapel.
of making altar covers for
the Idaho Falls and Boise
temples.
She is survived by her
eight children, 24 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, one brother and
two sisters. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, two sisters,
one brother and three
grandchildren.
A service will be held
at 11 a.m. Monday, April
14, at the Declo LDS
Stake Center, 213 W.
Main St. in Declo, Idaho.
Viewings will be held
from 7-9 p.m. Sunday,
April 13, at Hansen Mortuary, 710 Sixth St. in
Rupert, Idaho, and 9:3010:45 a.m. Monday at the
church.
DEATH NOTICES
Lowell
Christensen
RUPERT • Lowell Blaine
“Chris” Christensen, 74, of
Rupert, died Thursday, April
10, 2014, at his home.
The funeral will be held
at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April
15, at the Rupert LDS
Stake Center, 324 E. 18th
St. in Rupert; visitation
from 6-8 p.m. Monday,
April 14, at the Hansen
Mortuary, 710 Sixth St. in
Rupert, and one hour before the funeral Tuesday at
the church (Joel Heward
Hansen Mortuary).
Barbara Riffey
Marjorie Schmoe Merlin Leavitt
HOLLISTER • Barbara Jean
Riffey, 76, of Hollister, died
Wednesday, April 9, 2014.
Arrangements will be announced by Parke’s Magic
Valley Funeral Home of Twin
Falls.
FILER • Marjorie Schmoe,
88, Filer, died Thursday,
April 10, 2014.
Arrangements will be announced by Parke’s Magic
Valley Funeral Home of Twin
Falls.
Elinor Smith
Dianna Serr
Sidney
Vipperman
TWIN FALLS • Elinor
“Lee” Smith, 81, of Twin
Falls, died Wednesday,
April 9, 2014.
Arrangements will be announced by Parke’s Magic Valley Funeral Home of Twin Falls.
WENDELL • Dianna Elizabeth Serr, 61, of Wendell,
died Thursday, April 10,
2014, at her home.
Arrangements will be announced by Demaray Funeral Service, Wendell Chapel.
TWIN FALLS • Sidney Lee
“Vip” Vipperman, 73, of
Twin Falls, died Wednesday,
April 9, 2014, at his home.
Arrangements will be announced by White Mortuary
in Twin Falls.
SUBMITTING OBITUARIES
For obituary rates and information, call 735-3266 Monday
through Saturday. Deadline is 3 p.m. for next-day
publication. The email address for obituaries is
[email protected] Death notices are a free service
and can be placed until 4 p.m. every day. To view or
submit obituaries online, or to place a message in an
individual online guestbook, go to www.magicvalley.com
and click on “Obituaries.”
Bryan B. Reid of Price,
Utah, and formerly of
Jerome, burial at 2 p.m. today, April 11, in the Jerome
Cemetery in Jerome.
JEROME • Merlin H.Leavitt,
95, of Jerome, died Wednesday,April 9,2014,at his home.
Arrangements will be announced by Farnsworth
Mortuary of Jerome.
READ TOMORROW’S
OBITUARIES TODAY
@MAGICVALLEY.COM
Read obituaries before they appear in the
paper. Tomorrow’s obituaries appear
online at 7 p.m. every evening.
Michael Ross Benson of
Twin Falls, memorial service at 11 a.m. today, April
11, at the Harrison Street
LDS Church, 667 Harrison
St. in Twin Falls; inurnment at 3 p.m. today in the
Pleasant View Cemetery in
Burley (Rosenau Funeral
Home in Twin Falls).
Stake Center, 2050 Normal Ave. in Burley; visitation from 6-8 p.m. today,
April 11, at the Rasmussen
Funeral Home, 1350 E.
16th St. in Burley, and 1010:45 a.m. Saturday at the
church.
Roderick Kervin “Rick”
Rynders of Buhl, memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Buhl
LDS Church, 501 Main St.;
luncheon follows at the
Clear Lakes Country Club
(Farnsworth Mortuary of
Jerome).
Julia Hall Dixon of Salt
Lake City, Utah, and formerly of Jerome, funeral at
11 a.m. Saturday, April 12,
at the Salt Lake Ensign
Stake Center, 135 “A” St. in
Salt Lake City, Utah; visitation one hour before the
funeral at the church
(Larkin Mortuary in Salt
Lake City, Utah).
Charles
Richard
“Chuck”
Lynch
of
Hawthorne, Nev., and formerly of Jerome, funeral at
11 a.m. today, April 11, at
the Snake River Elks
Lodge, 412 E. 200 S. of
Jerome; visitation one
hour before the funeral today at the Elks Lodge
(Farnsworth Mortuary of
Jerome).
Gary Wayne Tucker of
Twin Falls, celebration of
life at 1 p.m. Saturday,
April 12, at Rosenau Funeral Home, 2826 Addison
Ave. E. in Twin Falls.
Robert “Brad” Baugh of
Buhl, celebration of life at
4:30 p.m. today, April 11, at
Rosenau Funeral Home,
2826 Addison Ave. E. in
Twin Falls.
Martha Rose Byington of
Hailey, memorial service at
1 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at
the Community Campus
in Hailey (Wood River Funeral Chapel in Hailey).
Irene D. Meyer Adolf of
Buhl, funeral at 10 a.m.
Saturday, April 12, at St.
John’s Lutheran Church in
Buhl (Farmer Funeral
Chapel in Buhl).
Roberta Frances Harding
of Jerome, funeral at 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 12, at
Farnsworth Mortuary, 1343
S. Lincoln in Jerome; visitation from 6-8 p.m. today, April 11, and one hour
before the funeral Saturday
at the mortuary.
Alice Marie Ireton McCurdy Garnand of Gooding, funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the LDS
Church in Gooding; visitation from 5-7 p.m. today,
April 11, at Demaray Funeral Service, Gooding
Chapel and beginning at
9 a.m. Saturday at the
church.
Jessie Gene Woodland of
Blackfoot, funeral at 10:30
a.m. Saturday, April 12, at
Hawker Funeral Home, 132
S. Schilling Ave. in Blackfoot; visitation from
6-8 p.m. today, April 11,
and one hour before the
funeral Saturday at the funeral home.
Ezra Earl (Bud) Davidson, formerly of Burley,
funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday,
April 12, at the Burley LDS
Helen M. Lyon of Buhl,
celebration of life memorial service at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Buhl
Senior Center.
Margaret McCaughey of
Jerome, funeral Mass at
10 a.m. Monday, April 14,
at St. Jerome Catholic
Church, 219 Second Ave.
E. in Jerome; vigil with
rosary at 7 p.m. Sunday,
April 13, at the church
(Farnsworth Mortuary of
Jerome).
Arthur Kenneth Edwards of Twin Falls, memorial service at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 16, at
Rosenau Funeral Home,
2826 Addison Ave. E. in
Twin Falls.
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