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The Avanti Law Group

Avanti Law Group is a full-service litigation firm providing excellent legal representation to its clients in Michigan and throughout the world. 

The Avanti Law Group: Supreme Court Divided on Limiting Securities Fraud Suits

The Supreme Court appeared divided into three camps on whether to overrule or alter a long-standing legal precedent that provides the foundation for many class-action lawsuits alleging securities fraud.


The court heard an hour-long oral argument in a case involving Halliburton Co. and whether to overturn a 1988 Supreme Court decision which held that investors in securities-fraud lawsuits don’t have to prove they relied upon any misleading statements by a company.


By the end of an hour-long argument session, it appeared some justices were looking for a middle-ground to resolve the case.


The court, in Basic v. Levinson, said it was enough that investors rely on the integrity of stock prices, which are a reflection of publicly available company information. That legal doctrine, known as fraud-on-the-market, has provided a basis for allowing investors to pool their claims into one large class-action lawsuit. Read the full WSJ story here.


If the court abandons its earlier precedent it could make it difficult for investors to bring class-actions alleging they were misled.


The court’s four liberal justices, including Justice Elena Kagan, voiced resistance Wednesday to overturning the 1988 decision.


Justice Kagan said Congress has been active in passing securities-law reforms and has had “every opportunity” to overrule or alter the court’s Basic decision, but hasn’t done so. She and other liberal justices suggested there was no strong justification for the court to overrule its prior precedent, which the court generally is reluctant to do.


Conservatives justices expressed concern about the court’s 1988 ruling, but appeared divided on how to proceed.


Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito voiced skepticism of the premises behind the court’s earlier decision, suggesting it had made it too easy for investors to have their lawsuits certified to proceed as class-actions. Justice Scalia said once investor cases are allowed to go forward as class-actions, company defendants feel pressure to settle even weak cases.


But Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate conservative justice, repeatedly asked questions that sought a compromise in deciding the case. He asked whether companies defending against securities-fraud allegations ought to have a chance, before a class-action is certified, to argue that any alleged company misrepresentations didn’t have an impact on the company’s stock price. The court could embrace that approach without abandoning its earlier case, he suggested.


Other justices later voiced interest in Justice Kennedy’s line of questioning. By the end of the session, it didn’t appear that a majority of the court was prepared to fully abandon the 1988 precedent.


The case is being closely watched in investing circles and by the business community. The underlying dispute focuses on a decade-old lawsuit covering investors who bought HalliburtonHAL +1.02% shares between 1999 and 2001. The plaintiffs allege that Halliburton misled the public about its asbestos liabilities, about revenue on construction contracts, and about the benefits of its 1998 merger with Dresser Industries. Halliburton argued that any misrepresentations alleged by the plaintiffs had no actual impact on the company’s share price.


Halliburton asked the court to overturn the 1988 precedent, but as a fallback position, has also advocated for changes to the legal process that are similar to the ones raised by Justice Kennedy.


A ruling is expected by the end of June.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2014/03/05/supreme-court-divided-on-limiting-securities-fraud-suits

The Avanti Law Group: Legal Fraud of the Century

There are plenty of candidates for that title, but after Tuesday the prize belongs to attorney Steven Donziger. Federal judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the environmental activist had engaged in a massive racketeering scheme and declared that a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron CVX -0.89% in an Ecuadorian court cannot be enforced in the United States.


As our readers know, in 1993 Mr. Donziger sued Texaco (now merged with Chevron) for what he said was the company's failure to clean up oil pits it drilled in Lago Agrio in the 1970s with state oil company PetroEcuador. Chevron had signed proof that it had cleaned its portion of the pits and had been absolved of any liability, but Mr. Donziger sniffed the potential windfall of a media-ready environmental "disaster" and sued the company for $113 billion. He enlisted all manner of celebrity helpers, including actress Daryl Hannah.


He won in Ecuador, but only thanks to what Judge Kaplan found were "dishonest and corrupt" measures including bribery, coercion and engaging an American consulting firm to ghostwrite an independent expert's reports. In a 485-page opinion, the judge called the case "extraordinary," calling the actions of Mr. Donziger and his legal team "offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador." The corrupt extortion was intended to "instill fear of a catastrophic outcome in order to increase the amount Chevron would pay to avoid the worst," Judge Kaplan wrote.


Chevron refused to give in, and now the case may serve as an example of how companies can fight back if they have the nerve and the cash. Mr. Donziger says he'll appeal, but on the factual record he stands discredited. Another worthy casualty may be financially strapped Washington law firm Patton Boggs, which got involved on behalf of Burford Capital's BUR.LN -0.44% effort to provide litigation financing to the plaintiffs. Tuesday's opinion means the firm won't collect any plunder, which couldn't happen to a nicer crowd.


Mr. Donziger is a pioneer of the foreign environmental tort, trying to exploit Third World juries to bleed U.S. companies regardless of the merits. We're glad to see his dishonesty face American justice. `

Source: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303630904579419293477469018

The Avanti Law Group: Haste Clouds Long-Term Effort on Mortgage Fraud

A report issued by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, underscores the danger of extolling short-term results when it comes to prosecuting white-collar crimes. The report highlights how generating headlines seemed to take precedence over accurate figures in the government’s fight against mortgage fraud.


In October 2012, less than a month before the presidential election, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called a news conference to trumpet the Justice Department’s success in combating foreclosure fraud through a program called the Distressed Homeowner Initiative. “The success of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, and the developments we announce today, underscore our determination to pursue these and other financial fraud criminals around the country,” Mr. Holder said in a statement.


The claims of great success came during a time of persistent criticism that the Justice Department was not taking stronger action to pursue fraud in the run-up to the financial crisis. The numbers offered by Mr. Holder for the first year of the initiative were impressive: charges filed against 530 defendants, including 172 executives, from frauds that resulted in losses of more than $1 billion.


After questions from the news media about those claims, almost a year later the Justice Department revised those figures significantly downward. The total number of defendants charged was 107, with no reference to any executives, and the loss from criminal activity was $95 million. In response to Mr. Horowitz’s report, a Justice Department spokeswoman pointed out: “In the time period in question, the number of mortgage fraud indictments nearly doubled, and the number of convictions rose by more than 100 percent.”


An interesting question is whether accurate reporting of the results, like a 100 percent increase in convictions, would have generated the kind of headlines the government seemed to want. Bringing that many more cases for a complex white-collar crime is a good result, but claiming to pursue several corporate executives gave the original numbers much more punch in light of accusations that the Justice Department was being soft on Wall Street.


The inspector general’s report puts much of the blame for the inflated figures on how the F.B.I. gathered the information for Mr. Holder. Mr. Horowitz noted that “we found significant breakdowns in the process used to develop the results of the Distressed Homeowners Initiative.” That occurred at least in part because the F.B.I. had “too little time and resources available to allow for vetting of the data.”


The report does not give a reason for taking such a slapdash approach, but I think it is clear that there was pressure to announce the success of the initiative to demonstrate how the Justice Department was responding to public outcry over the lack of tangible evidence that prosecutors were taking a hard line. And so we have an example of “act in haste, repent at leisure.”


Intensifying the pressure to report robust results was additional money provided by Congress for positions to be used to combat mortgage fraud after the financial crisis. Both the Justice Department and the F.B.I. received millions of dollars for new employees, and that means showing the money was put to good use. But Mr. Horowitz’s report states that mortgage fraud was not a high priority for the F.B.I., in part because it was declining as lenders toughened their standards. In these days of tight budgets, however, no agency turns down an appropriation.


The government is fond of calling a new initiative an operation, which implies a sense of urgency and resolve. In 2010, before the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, the Justice Department started Operation Stolen Dreams to take on a broad array of mortgage frauds. Less than three months after it started, Mr. Holder announced that prosecutors had brought cases involving “1,215 criminal defendants nationwide, including 485 arrests, who are allegedly responsible for more than $2.3 billion in losses.”


Those are impressive numbers for a white-collar crime, especially in such a short period, but their validity may be open to question. Mr. Horowitz’s report points out that his office did not audit these figures, and in light of the other findings, he recommends that the Justice Department “revisit the results.”


Catching those engaged in mortgage fraud is not like operating a sobriety checkpoint or drug dragnet that quickly yields arrests. Trumpeting initiatives for pursuing complex white-collar crimes whose success will be reported in months rather than years runs the risk of offering results that don’t grab the public’s attention — or worse, makes them look like failures.


As an initial matter, just figuring out what the numbers are can be difficult. Mortgage fraud is not a separate crime but a subset of federal offenses like bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. So prosecutions involving mortgages may not show up easily in government records.


A greater problem in announcing a crackdown is that these types of cases often don’t come to light until months, or even years, after the transactions, and the fraud can take many different forms. During the period when real estate values soared, there were schemes to inflate property values so that lenders were making loans for far more than houses were worth. Once the housing bubble burst around 2007, mortgage frauds morphed into schemes to defraud homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure.


Putting together a mortgage fraud case requires amassing a large volume of documents to track ownership, housing values and the transfer of money. Even figuring out where a fraud involving inflated housing values took place usually requires a bank or real estate company to report suspicious activity, which could come long after the scheme ended when the loan finally defaults.


For scams involving homeowners who face foreclosure, just identifying whether a crime took place is difficult. Those in danger of losing their homes may grasp at straws in seeking help, with companies taking advantage of them by doing just enough to make it appear they tried to help. Victims may not recognize a fraud or have the time and energy to pursue a complaint in the face of losing their homes.


This type of scheme often involves modest sums taken from those who can least afford it. The Justice Department tends not to pursue small cases, leaving them to local law enforcement, so any number of violations could easily fall through the cracks.


Mortgage fraud, like most white-collar crimes, requires painstaking investigation over a long period, so there will never be a flood of cases. And even when the government commits resources to investigations, there will be some that do not pan out.


But that does not make headlines when the government paints itself into a corner by pursuing initiatives that imply a promise of quick results.

The Avanti Law Group: Credit Suisse Waits for $11 Billion Answer in N.Y. Fraud Suit


Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- As Credit Suisse Group AG sees it, time has run out on New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s pursuit of Wall Street banks for mortgage fraud that helped trigger the financial crisis.


Schneiderman sued Credit Suisse in 2012 as part of a wide- ranging probe into mortgage bonds. He claimed Switzerland’s second-largest bank misrepresented the risks associated with $93.8 billion in mortgage-backed securities issued in 2006 and 2007.


Credit Suisse asked a Manhattan judge in December to dismiss Schneiderman’s case, as well as his demand for as much as $11.2 billion in damages. The bank argued that New York, by waiting so long to file the lawsuit, missed a three-year legal deadline for suing. The state countered that it had six years to file its complaint.


If the bank wins, Schneiderman will face a new roadblock as he considers similar multibillion-dollar claims against a dozen other Wall Street firms. The judge in New York State Supreme Court could rule at any time.


“It would obviously tilt everything in the favor of Credit Suisse and similarly situated financial institutions,” said David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, hindering New York’s remaining efforts to hold banks accountable for mistakes that spurred a recession.


Obstacles Posed


The obstacle posed by such statutes of limitation in pursuing mortgage-bond cases may be traced back to Andrew Cuomo, Schneiderman’s predecessor. Although now-Governor Cuomo didn’t file any such cases against the banks, he announced a probe into all aspects of the mortgage business in 2008.


In doing so, he may have started the clock ticking on how long a state suit could be filed, making it impossible for fellow Democrat Schneiderman to argue his office didn’t learn of the bank’s conduct until he took office in 2011.


On Feb. 6, Credit Suisse said it was setting aside 514 million Swiss francs ($568 million) for legal issues, including 339 million francs for mortgage litigation. The bank may be preparing to resolve a related bond insurer lawsuit, Mark Palmer, an analyst with BTIG LLC in New York, said in a Feb. 10 note.


Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for Schneiderman, and Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for Cuomo, declined to comment on the Credit Suisse case.


Filing Deadline


Schneiderman, 59, avoided a filing deadline dispute by settling a mortgage-bond case with JPMorgan Chase & Co. last year. The state got $613 million in that pact, New York’s share of the landmark $13 billion federal-state accord with the largest U.S. lender.


Armed with the Martin Act, New York’s powerful anti-fraud tool, Schneiderman has said he is seeking settlements with the other, unidentified banks.


In the lawsuit against Zurich-based Credit Suisse, filed in November 2012, he claims the bank ignored warning signs about the quality of loans it was packaging and selling. One example cited was its use of New Century Financial Corp. mortgages after that firm’s 2007 bankruptcy.


The attorney general’s lawsuit involves 64 Credit Suisse bond offerings in 2006 and 2007. Credit Suisse has said the losses on those offerings were only about half of the $11.2 billion claimed by Schneiderman.


One Credit Suisse executive described some of the mortgages the bank sold as “complete and utter garbage,” according to the complaint. The bank relied on mortgage originators that “systematically abandoned underwriting standards in the years leading up to the collapse of the housing market,” Schneiderman said.


Thrown Out


Credit Suisse, which denies any wrongdoing, told Justice Marcy S. Friedman Dec. 11 that the suit should be thrown out because it was filed more than three years after the alleged wrongdoing was discovered.


Consumer fraud and personal injury claims are generally subject to a three-year statute of limitations under New York law, while financial frauds can be granted six years.

The Avanti Law Group: Federal crackdown on Medicare fraud in metro Detroit hits it big


The U.S. Department of Justice could dub 2013 the year its fight against Medicare billing fraud in Southeast Michigan yielded the first real payoff.


Last year, the Detroit Medicare Fraud Strike Force, deployed here from Washington, and a locally organized Health Care Fraud Unit of prosecutors together brought charges in fraud schemes billing more than $380 million to the federal program. That's more than double the bad billing amount charged in any preceding year.


It's been a slow build since the strike force came to Detroit in 2009 as part of the national Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, referred to as HEAT, to ferret out what data analysis suggested was hundreds of millions worth of fraud here.


The effort is gaining traction, according to both investigators and a Crain's analysis of local casework and Justice Data.


In 2013, federal prosecutors obtained 18 local indictments against 46 defendants in fraud schemes totaling $380.2 million — fueled by $225 million in unnecessary medical treatment attributed to oncologist Farid Fata — but even without that, higher than the previous record of $143.3 million in billings charged in 2011.


But more significantly, that figure approaches for the first time the billing volume that experts believe is likely fraudulent within the $5 billion-plus in annual Medicare expenditures in Southeast Michigan. Since the first indictments from the increased enforcement presence came down in June 2009, nearly 170 people have pleaded guilty and nearly three dozen were convicted by juries. Another 110 await a finding by a jury or judge this year, including three who are on trial this week before U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow.


Investigators said the success is due to a mix of cutting-edge surveillance and witness interviews that establish crossover points between one bad billing scheme and another.


Over time, Justice has begun to catch criminals before they close shop and change markets as in years past, and the trickle of closed cases has become a verifiable stream.


Feeling the HEAT


Local prosecutions from the national HEAT program, a collaboration between Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and by the local Health Care Fraud Unit, formed by U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade in Detroit in 2010, have together roped in 341 defendants in $745 million of alleged fraudulent Medicare billing schemes to date.


"Based on Medicare spending data, we see per-beneficiary spending is going down in this market. One possible conclusion from that is we are indeed making headway," McQuade said.


"That's consistent with what we see, but a lot of the law enforcement community will tell you about the balloon effect, where squeezing one area (of fraud) makes another expand."


The decline in per-beneficiary spending is tentative — the most recent year available is 2010, but it shows that reimbursements from Medicare fell anywhere from $50 to $400 per enrollee in five Southeast Michigan hospital referral regions from 2009, which was the first year of strike force prosecution. The regions saw nothing but increases the preceding five years.


Even so, the $10,944 average expenditure per Medicare enrollee across the region is more than the average payout in 90 percent of the 306 regions tracked nationwide.


The per-beneficiary data is compiled by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, a program of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.


Since January 2011, McQuade said, the amount billed to Medicare for psychotherapy locally has gone down by 70 percent, and home health care has seen reduced billings, although billings are still generally high.


"We do have a recently intercepted conversation on wiretap, where two individuals were recorded saying they need to be more careful now because they're really cracking down in this area. That's encouraging," McQuade said.


"Does that mean criminals stop, or do they go elsewhere? That's hard to know. But when you do bring down some of the actors, you do seem to bring down at least some of the fraud occurring along with them."


Nationwide, more than 1,500 people have been charged since March 2007 in connection with more than $5.1 billion in Medicare billings, by the strike force in nine cities where software operated by HHS found disproportionate Medicare billing volumes believed to be due to fraud.


Read full article here…

The Avanti Law Group: IRS releases Dirty Dozen Tax Scams List for 2014

Washington, D.C. – Every year, people fall prey to tax scams. The IRS wants you to be safe and informed – and not become a victim.


“Some people are victimized by tax scams, while some get involved after being lured in by false promises of big money,” said IRS spokesman Dan Boone.


Taxpayers who get involved in illegal tax scams can lose their money, or face stiff penalties, interest and even criminal prosecution. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Here are some highlights from the 2014 update of IRS’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams.


Identity theft. Tax fraud using identity theft tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list. In many cases, an identity thief uses a taxpayer’s identity to illegally file a tax return and claim a refund. For the 2014 filing season, the IRS has expanded efforts to better protect taxpayers and help victims. Find more information on the identity protection page on www.IRS.gov.


Pervasive telephone scams.  The IRS has seen an increase in local phone scams across the country. Callers pretend to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS – and you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe taxes, then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.


Phishing.  Phishing scams typically use unsolicited emails or fake websites that appear legitimate. Scammers lure in victims and prompt them to provide their personal and financial information. The fact is that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.


False promises of “free money” from inflated refunds. Scam artists often pose as tax preparers during tax time, luring victims in by promising large tax refunds. The bottom line is that you are legally responsible for what’s on your tax return, even if someone else prepares it. Taxpayers who buy into such schemes can end up penalized for filing false claims or receiving fraudulent refunds. Take care when choosing someone to do your taxes. Only use a qualified tax preparer who will sign your return and enter their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). For tips about choosing a preparer, visit www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro .


Impersonation of charitable organizations. Taxpayers need to be sure they donate to recognized charities. Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or personal information from well-intentioned people. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working with the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.


Frivolous arguments.  Frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. The IRS has a list of frivolous tax arguments that taxpayers should avoid. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law or ignore their responsibility to pay taxes.


Tax scams can take many forms beyond the “Dirty Dozen”. The best defense is to remain vigilant. Get more information on tax scams at IRS.gov.

Avanti Law Group: Tips for å maksimere skatt kreditt

Skatt forberedelse programvare har gjort fantastiske ting å redusere forverring av inntekt skatt innlevering, og å redusere de vanligste feilene gjort av skattebetalere, som matte feil.


Imidlertid gjøre Fill-in-the-blank programmene ikke alltid en god jobb når det gjelder å fange uvanlig skattefradrag og skatte besparelsene som kan finnes med noen siste justeringer.


Det samme gjelder for noen av skatteskjemaer tilgjengelig for personer med ukomplisert avkastning. Skjemaet forenklet føderale 1040-EZ, for eksempel tillater ikke for å hevde sikker verdifulle studiepoeng.


Så selv når du bruker noen av de tidsbesparende skatt produktene som er tilgjengelige, er det godt å ha en grunnleggende kunnskap om noen av skatt kredittene du ikke vil glemme. En skatt kreditt er verdt langt mer enn skattemessig fradrag, fordi en kreditt er en dollar-for-dollar reduksjon i skatt skyldte.


Her er noen av de enkle-å-savne kredittene:


Hvis du sendte et avhengige barn under 13 til dag camp i 2013 slik at du kan arbeide, kan du få minst 27 prosent av prisen tilbake gjennom statlige og føderale skatt kreditt, uansett hvor mye penger du gjør.


Du kan ikke kreve barn og avhengige vare æren i føderale 1040-EZ-skjemaet, så hvis du vanligvis bruker som forenklet form, du kan være uvitende om skattefradrag. De føderale skatt kreditt er verdt 20 prosent til 40 prosent av kvalifisert utgifter, basert på inntekt, mens tilsvarende staten kreditt er 7 prosent for de fleste filers. Hvis du vil vite mer, gå til irs.gov og ser opp publikasjonen 503.


"Overflødig forsikringspremie skattefradrag" i siste uken kolonnen er verdt opptil $1250 på South Carolina inntekt selvangivelse, hvis kostnadene ved å opprettholde hjemme overskredet 5 prosent av din justert brutto inntekt. Hvis din skatt forberedelse programvare ikke inkluderer S.C. skjemaet 1040-TC (andre refunderes skatt kreditt) og tidsplan TC-44, kan du lett overse dette, og jeg har snakket med folk som gikk glipp av for nettopp den grunden.


Føderale pensjon sparing bidrag æren, eller "Saver er kreditt" er en verdifull incentiv for folk med moderat til lave inntekter, og det er en annen kreditt som ikke kreves på 1040-EZ. Du må IRS skjema 8880.


The Saver kreditt er verdt mellom 10 og 50 prosent av beløpet som gis til pensjonsordninger i løpet av inntektsåret, opp til $2000 per skattyter, basert på inntekt. Et ektepar innlevering en felles returnere kunne har en justert brutto inntekt på opp til $59,000 og være kvalifisert for minst 10 prosent skatt kreditt, som ville være verdt $400 hvis begge bidratt $2000 eller mer til pensjonsordninger.


En enslig mor (leder av husholdningen) kan tjene opp til $26,625 og fremdeles få maksimalt 50 prosent skatt kreditt. Med andre ord, bidrar $1000 til en avgang plan som individuelle Retirement konto eller 401k, og få $500 tilbake.


En annen ting skjemaer og programvare er ikke bra på gjør peker ut hvor små justeringer kan bety stor skatt besparelser.


Saver er kreditt er et godt eksempel, fordi inntekt grensene faller rett rundt midtpunktet av det familier faktisk tjener.


Så si det er et ektepar, og begge ektefeller bidratt til pensjonsordninger i 2013. Hvis deres innstilt bruttoinntekt var $59,500, gjorde de mye å få Saver er kreditt. Men hvis de skulle bidra $500 til en fradragsberettiget IRA for 2013, som kan gjøres til avgifter forfaller i 2014, det ville redusere sine inntekter under grensen og gjøre dem kvalifisert for en skatt kreditt opp til $400.


Og for de som er kvalifisert for South Carolina overflødig forsikringspremie tax credit, noen reduksjon i føderale justert brutto inntekt vil også øke størrelsen på den krediten, så lenge den ikke overskrider den maksimale kreditten.


Skatteregler er komplisert og kan være en rask vei til smertefulle hodepine, men vet noen av opplysningene kan hjelpe deg å oppnå fordeler som du vil savne ellers.

IRS er overveldet av tyveri identitetssvindel of Avanti Law Group


WASHINGTON-Rashia Wilson kjøpte en $92,000 Audi, erklærte seg selv en millionær og annonsert på sin Facebook-side at hun var dronning IRS skatt svindel,"som påtalemyndigheten fortalte historien.


Men enda mer enn hennes flamboyance, det var tilsynelatende enkel hennes forbrytelse som var mest imponerende: hun og medskyldig ble anklaget for å ha kapret identiteten til andre skattebetalere å få falske refusjon. De brukte stjålet personnummer, datamaskin og grunnleggende kunnskaper om hvordan å filen selvangivelse, ifølge regjeringen.


Etter Florida mor til tre var fanget og erklærte seg gjorde skyldig fjor forbrytelser totalt minst $3 millioner, hennes forsvarsadvokat, Mark O'Brien, sitt eget bønn. Han sa i retten at han håpet de «IRS vil finne en måte å hindre at dette skjer i fremtiden, så noen med en sjette klasse utdanning ikke svindle dem så lett.»


Over hele landet, har tyveri av skattebetaler identiteter tatt av, mens du får langt mindre oppmerksomhet enn tapet av kredittkortinformasjon. Noen narkotikalangere, alltid med et øye for enkel fortjeneste, har slått til skattyter identitetstyveri etter å ha hørt hvordan ukomplisert var å svindel IRS. En medisinsk assistent på sykehjem stjal identiteten til hundrevis av pasienter. En fengselsvakt stjal identiteten til innsatte og arkivert falske avkastning under navnene deres.


Alt i alt i bare de første seks månedene i fjor, ble 1,6 millioner skattytere berørt av identitetstyveri, sammenlignet med 271 000 for hele 2010, ifølge en nylig revisjon av Finansdepartementets avdeling Generalinspektøren. Mens IRS sa det oppdaget mange av hendelsene, har kumulative tyverier resultert i milliarder av dollar i potensielt falske refusjoner, ifølge en rekke regjeringen rapporter.


"Jeg har hatt en politisjef fortelle meg"gaten kriminalitet er nede fordi alle er nå innlevering falske IRS avkastning"," sa IRS kommissær John Koskinen, som overtok forrige måned, i et intervju. (Related Dailymotion Video: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1bybd6_awards-recognition-of-the-avanti-law-group_news)


Koskinen understreket at Skattemyndighetene bruker en rekke "filtre" som blir stadig mer vellykket i å fange identitet thefts før refusjoner er betalt, han erkjente at «dette problemet har eksplodert '' og at byrået er i en konstant kappløp å holde sine teknikker et skritt foran tyver. "Det er,'' sa han, "litt som"Whac-a-Mole,' slå dem ned her og de kommer opp der."


Kathryn Keneally, USAs assisterende statsadvokat for avdeling, sa hennes kontor har et økende antall rettsforfølgelse av skattebetaler identitetstyveri underveis. Hun oppført ett hjerte-wrenching tilfelle etter hverandre: militært personell som hadde sin identitet stjålet mens distribuert og foreldre som lærte at barnets nylig avdøde identitet hadde blitt stjålet.


"Vi har sett narkotikalangere gå inn i dette fordi det er lett tilgang til penger. Gjenger gå inn i dette fordi det er lett tilgang til penger. Eller minst de oppfatter det slik, Keneally sa, mens: "Vær så snill, hvis du siterer meg på sa"Det er lett tilgang til penger", inkluderer: 'vi endrer ligningen og vi legger risiko som. "Gjennomsnittlig fengselsstraff for skattyter identitetstyveri i fjor var mer enn tre år, og den lengste var 26 år.


Problemet er at selv som tiltaler øke og IRS forbedrer evnen til å stoppe mange falske selvangivelse foran, identitetstyver også øker deres innsats.


"Hva identitetstyver gjøre er spille på volumet," sa Keneally. "Så hvis de filen 10 returer og 9 er stoppet, en 10 gikk gjennom og de fikk penger.


I tilfelle etter sak, viser rettsbok kriminelle har brukt skatt innlevering programvare for å få refusjon i tusenvis av dollar, betalt ofte som mottar pengene via US Treasury på debetkort eller direkte innskudd.


Fanger til fengsler over hele landet har fått stjålet personnummer og arkivert tusenvis av falske avkastning. Kriminelle utenlandske steder har stjålet opplysninger om amerikanere og mottatt tilbakebetalinger. Tyver har stjålet personnummer tusenvis av barn, i tillegg til tusenvis av døde mennesker, å få falske avgiftsrefusjon. (Relate Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX8cpsMIobE)


En US Treasury revisjon utgitt i September i fjor sa at "milliarder dollar i potensielt falske refusjoner fortsette betales" som følge av identitetstyveri. Hvis problemet ikke er stanset, sende IRS $21 milliarder i falske refusjoner i de neste fem årene, ifølge vitnesbyrd av Finansdepartementets avdeling Generalinspektøren for skatte-politikk, J. Russell George.


Skattemyndighetene har bestridt at anslaget, sier den har forbedret sin evne til å oppdage identitetstyveri. Men en talsmann byrået ikke har nok informasjon til å gi sin egen anslag over hvor mye man har betalt så langt i falske refusjoner.

En indikasjon på omfanget av problemet er at Skattemyndighetene har gitt 1,2 millioner skattebetalere en spesiell kode, kjent som en identitetsbeskyttelse PIN-nummer, sendes med selvangivelse. Det personlige identifikasjonsnummeret angir de tidligere har vært målet for identitetstyveri. Bare to år siden, ble bare 250.000 mennesker klassifisert sånn.


Tyveri av skattebetaler identiteter er ulik masse ran av kredittkortnumre, som har skjedd nylig på detaljhandel lenker slik som mål. Mens kredittkort kan avbrytes raskt, og forbrukerne holdt skadesløs i noen tilfeller, kan utsatt for skattyter ID tyveri møte måneder eller år opprivende problemer.


Marcy Hossli Florida vitnet i fjor før Senatet Special Committee on Aging som hun visste hun hadde vært et offer for identitetstyveri før hun fikk et brev fra Skattemyndighetene i 2012 forteller henne at noen hadde brukt hennes personlige opplysninger for skatterefusjoner i de to foregående årene.




Marcy Hossli vitnet at hun visste hun hadde vært an identitetstyveri victim til IRS fortalte henne at noen hadde brukt hennes personlige opplysninger for skatterefusjoner i de to foregående årene.


Hossli, en overlevende som skyldte $4000 i medisinsk regninger, ble fortalt det ville ta flere måneder å behandle henne tilbake. Deretter ble hun fortalt at hun ville være blant dem som får en spesiell fødselsnummer, så IRS ville vite hun hadde vært utsatt for identitetstyveri og at noen avkastning arkivert i hennes navn bør kontrolleres grundig for å gjøre hun det var arkivert av henne.


På veien til å oppnå spesielle nummer, Hossli vitnet, hun holdt en rekke runarounds og sa hun hadde snakket med "mange" forskjellige personer i byrået. En IRS agent "fortalte meg det var min egen feil at jeg ikke hadde fått tilbakebetalingen," vitnet Hossli, som ikke kunne nås for kommentar. “. . . Hun var helt vred på meg og gjorde meg dum og små sier: jeg var bare en av mange arbeider med samme problem. Jeg var nær gråt på telefonen.


En mengde regjeringen rapporterer sikkerhetskopierer Hosslis vitnesbyrd.

Understaffing og manglende opplæring på IRS ment at det tok gjennomsnitt 312 dager å løse identitetstyveri tilfeller, utsette ofre for en rekke traumatisk forsinkelser som ofte ble forårsaket av forvirring blant IRS agenter, en Finansdepartementet tilsynet sa.

IRS tjenestemenn har de nylig forbedret responstiden på klager, klippe gjennomsnittlig ventetiden 312 dager å løse identitetstyveri tilfeller å 120 dager.


Alt dette reiser det grunnleggende spørsmålet: Hvorfor Skattemyndighetene vedvarer i praksis som gjør slike ordninger, utstede refusjoner før visse pengene kommer til legitime skattyter?


Svaret snakker volumer om utdaterte naturen IRS system av avkastning, og politisk press for å få refusjon raskt til skattytere.


Under dagens system, kan ikke Skattemyndighetene alltid være sikker på at en avkastning er arkivert av personen hvis navn og personnummer er på den, men det ofte betaler tilbakebetalingen uansett.


Den enkleste måten å opphøre det meste av falske refusjoner ville være å hindre eventuelle betalinger sendes til etter 15 April innlevering frist har passert.


 Som vil gjøre Skattemyndighetene å anerkjenne at mer enn én person bruker samme personnummer for en retur, og spørsmål byrået å undersøke hvilken er legitim. Men Skattemyndighetene følger en congressional mandat til å betale refusjoner så snart som mulig etter en avkastning mottas, ofte innen dager. Mens det har blitt fremmet som effektiv service, har det også bedt kriminelle å filen falske avkastning så snart skatt innlevering sesongen starter, håper å få pengene før virkelige skattyter selv tenker innlevering.


En annen måte å kutte identitetstyveri ville være for Kongressen å godkjenne en anbefaling fra kontoret av den nasjonale skattyter talsmann å opprette en "real time" system der selvangivelse ville samsvare foran med tredjeparts finansiell informasjon som uttalelser på lønn og renter og utbytte.


Foreløpig mottar IRS ofte den elektroniske versjonen av denne informasjonen uker eller måneder etter at det har utstedt en tilbakebetaling.

"Når IRS får en avkastning som hevder en tilbakebetaling, Skattemyndighetene ikke har kontrollere at skattebetaler er berettiget til tilbakebetaling, at det er en virkelig person," sa tidligere IRS kommissær Lawrence Gibbs i et intervju. "De har ikke poster å si om personen hevde tilbakebetalingen er berettiget til den. De sende bare sjekker. Skurkene fant ut det var nirvana og resultatet du har sett en massiv tilstrømning av svindel.


Koskinen, gjeldende kommissær, sa at han ønsker å se avkastning sjekket foran med finansiell informasjon, mens anerkjenner at slik endring kan ta flere år å fullt ut gjennomføre. Det ville også trolig kreve Kongressen om å øke IRS finansiering samtidig når det har vært å kutte etatens budsjett.


Mange av de falske selvangivelse er innlevert ved hjelp av personnummer som kreves ikke til filen avkastning og dermed ikke realisere sin identitet blitt brukt ulovlige refusjoner. For eksempel ble være bedragersk returnerer innlevert i 2011 bruke personnummer 1,451 barn under 14 år gammel. 19,102 døde mennesker; 37,249 fanger; og 753,000 folk som inntektsnivå ikke krever selvangivelse.


Muligheten for kriminelle å filen returnerer bruke navnene på døde mennesker har vært et kjent problem for år. Det har lenge vært lett å få tilgang til det som er kjent som"død Master" som inkluderer personnummer nylig avdøde mennesker.


Kriminelle kan bruke personnummer av døde barn, for eksempel å kreve at personen som en avhengig i år død. Det var ikke før i desember at Kongressen vedtok å begrense publikums evne til å få informasjon, og det fortsatt tilgjengelig mens forskrifter er skrevet for å gjennomføre den nye regelen.


Koskinen, den IRS commissioner, virket overrasket når han lært på en congressional hørsel på 5 februar filen død Master var fortsatt offentlig tilgjengelig, sier det representerer en "mål mulighet" for kriminelle å stjele identiteter.


Tyveri av skattebetaler identiteter har blitt en blomstrende virksomhet. I ett tilfelle nylig, en Florida sykehjem ansatt og medskyldig ble funnet å ha stjålet personnumrene og annen informasjon 617 mennesker, samlet data i et regneark, og deretter forsøkte å selge den for $28,500. ("Kjøper" var en undercover offiser.) En mann California ble funnet å ha stjålet personopplysninger fra et statlig organ og arkivert falske avkastning. En ansatt i en Alabama statlig organ var funnet å ha stjålet identitetsinformasjon fra en database og solgte den medskyldig som arkivert mer enn 1000 falsk returnerer.


Noen av identitetstyveri begås av skatt preparers fra sine kontorer. Preparers har arkivert returnerer bruke kundens informasjon og hadde hele eller deler av refusjoner sendt til seg selv. En tredjedel av potensielt falske avkastning ble innlevert av betalt preparers, hvorav mange ikke er regulert, ifølge en finansdepartementet rapport.


En statlig undersøkelse, for eksempel funnet at en unnamed skatt preparer innsendt 5,506 potensielt falske avkastning, som resulterte i refusjoner totalt $26.8 millioner.

Under en Senatet spurte høre i fjor, en vantro Senator Claire McCaskill, en Missouri demokrat, hvorfor IRS lov 2000 refusjoner gå én adresse, en åpenbare tegn på potensielle svindel. George, Treasury Generalinspektøren for skatte-politikk, svarte at Skattemyndighetene "må en lovfestet løsning for å begrense... antall returer som er utstedt til den samme bankkontoen debetkonto, hva har du."


"Nei, du har fikk å bli kidding," McCaskill svarte.

En rekke identitetstyveri tilfeller har blitt begått av skatt preparers som har vært anklaget i bredere tilfeller av bedrageri. For eksempel utarbeidet Rosa Ivette Colon, som drev et selskap kalt X-Press skatter i Somerville, Massachusetts, hundrevis av falske avkastning, inkludert to forekomster der "hun arkivert selvangivelse i andres navn uten deres kunnskap," i henhold til Justisdepartementet. Hun ble dømt i fjor til 61 måneder i fengsel og ble dømt til å betale $400.000 i hvile. Hennes offentlig forsvarer ikke kommentere.


I tilfelle av Rashia Wilson har hjulpet publisere spørsmålet om skattyter identitetstyveri, delvis fordi fargerike Tampa kvinnen var sa av myndigheter har skrytt om sine aktiviteter.


Hun postet på sin Facebook-side at hun var "queen of IRS skatt svindel," sammen med et bilde som viste hennes Heising bundet forladninger av regninger, ifølge. Hun har våget regjeringen å fange henne, skriver på Facebook, "jeg er en millionær for posten, så hvis U tenke indicting meg vil B lett det ikke, jeg lover deg!", ifølge påtalemyndigheten.


Pengene piled opp som Wilson innsendt en falsk retur etter en, indictmentaid. Bruker identiteten til en skattyter med initialene S.M.W., fikk Wilson på 15 April 2009, en $7,524 tilbakebetaling, FN sa. Mange lignende refusjoner ble innhentet i følgende tre år.


Bruker disse refusjoner, Wilson bodde på hoteller, trakk pengene fra ATMs, og kjøpte møbler, ifølge påtalemyndigheten. Så i mai 2012 kjøpte Wilson en 2013 Audi A8L, overlevere en bankremisse for $92,682.67, inntektene av falske føderale selvangivelsen og refusjoner, ifølge siktelsen.


Wilsons advokat, Mark O'Brien, sier de har tjent som en oppvekker til regjeringen. "Dette var mye verre enn fleste kan muligens forstå," sa O'Brien i et intervju. "Hvor mye penger som har blitt stjålet fra Skattemyndighetene er ufattelige. Jeg tror selv ikke de innser hvor mye har blitt stjålet, men de sikkert begynner å forstå, som du kan se fra nyere undersøkelser og straffeforfølgning."


Avanti Law Group: Virginia House passerer innvandring rettslig beskyttelse


Det ser ut republikanere i Richmond er kapping nasjonale trenden og støtte en Pro-innvandrer agenda. Nå er spørsmålet hvordan vil Latino velgerne svarer.


Et lovforslag vedtatt Virginia huset Feb. 7 forslaget ville forby notarius publicus som ikke er en føderalt akkreditert innvandring representant fra tilbyr eller gi råd om alle innvandring saker. Regningen forbyr også en notarius fra forutsatt, bruke eller reklame tittelen på notario, notario publico eller licenciado, med mindre notarius publicus er lisensiert til å praktisere loven i Virginia.


En notarius første brudd ville resultere i en $500 fine og andre $1000. Flere brudd kan medføre opphevelse av kommisjonen.


HB 492 ble introdusert av Del. David Albo (R-Springfield). Spørsmål: Hvorfor single ut innvandring? Hvis målet er å hindre at andre enn en advokat juridisk rådgivning i utlendingssaker, hvorfor ikke bare si det? Hvis loven forbyr alle unntatt advokater allerede gi juridisk råd, hvorfor ikke håndheve den?


Spesielle lov for spesielle tilfeller betyr spesielle problemer i det lange løp. For eksempel blir forbyr fagfolk fra annonsering i spansk en første endring problem? Tiltaket synes å være ment, men staten lover skal nytte ikke bare noen få.


En lignende lov har ikke blitt tilbudt i Senatet. Hvis et forslag er gjort, ville lovgivere være klokt å dekke alle lover, ikke bare problemet du jour. En engelsk bare lov vil klare opp dette.

Avanti Law Group: Bekjempe svindel a bunnlinjen spesialrapport

Milwaukee - det er en forsøkt og avrette svindel. Arbeidere falsk skade å få en stor gevinst fra skattebetalere. En arbeidstaker kompensasjon bill i Wisconsin Legislature inneholder forslag å bekjempe svindel. CBS 58 møtte med lokale lovgiveren, fagforeningsleder og privat etterforsker på leting etter svar. Hvor stor svindel problem i Wisconsin, og hva som blir gjort for å slå ned på svindlere?


"Det er virkelig trist fordi noen dårlige epler ødelegger det for alle" sa Ryan Sanchez, ledelsen privat etterforsker med Ryan Adam undersøkelser som stakes ut mistenkt arbeiderens comp og funksjonshemming fordeler cheaters. "Jeg har faktisk sett folk kaste sin stokk i bagasjerommet deres når de kommer tilbake fra legen."


Ifølge koalisjonen mot Forsikringssvindel er presis nasjonale og statlige statistikk på kompensasjon svindel mangelvare. Men tommelfingerregelen er at 1 i alle 10 krav dollar er tapt for svindel, ikke bare skyldes arbeidere falsk skade, men selskapene misclassifying ansatte ulovlig lavere sin premie.


"I Wisconsin, arbeidstaker kompensasjon systemet, vi se svært få tilfeller av bedrageri" sier Stephanie Bloomingdale med Wisconsin staten AFL-CIO. Imidlertid har arbeiderens kompensasjon rådet som hun sitter på inkludert en justice department svindel etterforsker posisjon i en massiv arbeiderens kompensasjon reformlover debatteres av staten lovgivere. "Når det er svindel i systemet, må vi ta vare på som avgjørende, og vi tror denne nye tillegg vil hjelpe i denne situasjonen.


Statlige Senator Glenn Grothman er også medlem av advisory council. West svingen republikanske sier mens svindel er en bekymring, økende medisinske kostnader er vondt ansatte, arbeidsgivere og innsats for å tiltrekke seg virksomhet til Wisconsin mest. "Våre medisinske leverandører belaste mer for arbeiderens comp arbeid enn de gjør i andre stater. Det betyr at våre premiene er høyere og det gjør oss mindre konkurransedyktige."


Wisconsin Medical Society motsetter avgift tidsplaner endringer sier slike caps "kunne opprette en disincentive for å gi omsorg for skadde arbeidere og ødelegge hva er en nasjonal modell."


Grothman sier "skal være en stor kamp kongelig i lovgivende forsamling over den neste måneden som vi se om vi kan endre systemet eller ikke."

Avanti Law Group: Fortelle deg ting vet du allerede

Selvfølgelig, er det om penger.


Uansett problemet, argumentet, melodrama, PowerPoint-presentasjoner, media tilgjengelighet (spesielt det) mudslinging, diagrammer og grafer, statistikk, empati, regn, finger-vogn, den oppgitt sukk, øyenbryn knaser, agn og slå, den politiske manøvreringen eller foto op "¦ på slutten av dagen, det er om penger.


Og som tydelig, bør ikke være banebrytende nyheter.


Neppe nyheter på alt, å fortelle sannheten. Det er så klar som den nest eldste gyldne regel: de som har gull, styre.


Ta vår dekke Oregon. vær så snill.


Vår stat representant (som kjører for guvernør) og våre amerikanske representant (som leder av nasjonale komiteen som får medlemmer av partiet hans valgt eller gjenvalgt til huset) ber om en etterforskning Statens $300 millioner helse exchange for "potensielle avfallet, svindel og misbruk.


Stikkordet det er "muligheter". Ikke "faktisk" avfallet, svindel og misbruk, fordi de ikke har vist seg som ennå. Men vi er forledet til å tro av guvernøren fra andre politiske partiet har hensikt inkompetent utbyggingen av vår versjon av helsevesenet promotert av POTUS av andre politiske partiet.


Uansett hva du tror dekke Oregon, er det nesten sikkert at nettstedet har krasjet og brant nesten like ille som flere amerikanske favoritter i OL. Som har gitt politiske motstandere en portal til å gjøre debatten ikke om medisinsk planer, dekker uninsured, et sikkerhetsnett for dem med pre-eksisterende tilstand "¦ men potensielle avfallet, svindel og misbruk av $300 millioner.


Avanti Law Group


Bitcoin er en enklere konsept for de av oss med stemmer på våre fingertuppene å forstå.


Global oppvarming? Om penger. Medisinsk marihuana dispensaries? Om penger. Genmodifiserte grønnsaker, innvandring, alkohol i dagligvarebutikker, tribal kasinoer? Om penger, om penger, om penger, om penger.


Lærer streik? "¦ nei, det er om barna.


Det var en major league baseball-spilleren heter Mike Hampton, som utøvet sin rett som en fri agent å utforske disse lagene som ønsker hans tjenester. Han gjorde en beryktede beslutning om å ta sine talenter til Mile High byen, som på den tiden var en gravplass for mugger, fordi, blant annet han sa han var imponert over det Colorado skolesystemet.


Og $121 millioner, åtte år kontrakt. Hampton varte to sesonger Rockies, hvorpå hans barn ble flyttet til Atlanta skolen.


Det er alltid om penger. Og kontroll. Kontrollere pengene, kontrollere historien, kontrollere sinnet til de som er opptatt med andre ting mens livet skjer, kontrollerer fremtiden.


Ta vår siste vær. vær så snill.


Massive spesielt i øst jords i California og Oklahoma og andre stater som du ikke ville tro var politisk bedfellows, Great Lakes-regionen fryser (ja, selv helvete, Mich.)


I Jackson fylke, har vi hatt posten nedbør og blitt satt på varsel for en tørke betegnelse i samme 24-timers periode. En perfekt storm av Schrodinger's Cat forhold "¦ og begge like nøyaktige.


"Så mye for global oppvarming" min svigerfar sier nordøst snowmaggedon fra den relative sikkerheten av hans kunstig lys, resirkulert luft, menneskeskapt parker og asfalt stier som mest kunstig alle stater "¦ Florida.


Ikke mannens skyld; Han er en flott fyr med en flott datter og en elendig cribbage spill. Han har nettopp tilbrakt mye tid plantet foran TV-apparater og radioer, lytte til mantraet som kontrollerer meldingen at menneskelige bidrag til systematisk oppløsning av miljøet og dens værmønstre er gal snakke basert på sprø vitenskap.


Som, og prøver å quixotically prøver å stoppe det ville en) avle milliarder i potensielle avfallet, svindel og misbruk mens 2) tar jobber (og penger) (kontroll) de (kraftige) selskaper som finansiere våre politiske kampanjer.


Så handler det om makt. Penger pluss kontrollere lik makt. Igjen, ingenting nytt. Vi alle lært dette fra øyeblikket vi innså at våre foreldre hadde denne magiske evne å sende oss til rommene. Og vi vil faktisk gå.


Ta vår medisinsk marihuana dispensaries. vær så snill.


Den føderale regjeringen sier en ting. Staten sier en annen. Våre lokale myndigheter sier alle slags ting, prøver å finne en middelvei som vil tilfredsstille flere mennesker enn de vil opprørt. Det kalles opprettholde en følelse av orden, opprettholde myndighet til å opprette og håndheve lover.


Et helsespørsmål, et moralsk problem, et generasjonsskifte problem, en kulturell problem, en offentlig sikkerhet problemet "¦ medisinsk marihuana er en veritabel roulette hjulet av filosofiske argumentasjon. En som, på dette stadiet, synes skjebnebestemt til å fortsette snurrende.


I mellomtiden får stater over hele landet munchies ser legalisert marihuana laboratorietester


The Avanti Law Group: Tips for Preventing Health Law Fraud in New York

In October of 2014, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will finally come into effect. As a result, many across America (including seniors) will have access to more affordable healthcare options. However, with these benefits come a variety of considerations and issues that the elderly must be aware of.


In fact the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) has developed a list of advice for helping elderly New Yorkers avoid health law fraud, and also provides tips for navigating all of the health law changes that will occur once Obamacare comes into effect.


The Tips


The NYSOFA is an organization whose goal is to ensure the protection and equal treatment of the elderly in New York. The NYSOFA recommends that all elderly who use Medicare or Medicaid should become aware of their local communities Senior Medical Patrol programs, or SMPs. SMPs are designed to assist the beneficiaries of Medicaid and Medicare, so that they can detect, prevent and avoid healthcare fraud. The NYSOFA wants the elderly to be aware that they are often perceived as an easy target for healthcare fraud, and thus they must be outfitted with knowledge and protections so that their rights are upheld and protected.


The NYSOFA has three key points of advice to assist the elderly in avoiding health care fraud. First, they recommend that all New York citizens go through great measures to protect their personal information, including closely guarding Medicare and Medicaid membership information. Identity theft used to procure Medicare and Medicare benefits costs the federal government billions of dollars and prevents those who need medical treatment the most from receiving the help they deserve. NYSOFA advises people to never give out their Medicare, Medicaid or social security numbers, and to remember the Medicare representatives never call or make home visits to beneficiaries.


Second, the NYSOFA recommends that the elderly take the steps necessary to be able to quickly detect discrepancies and other signs of fraud in their Medicare accounts and medical bills. Tips for doing so include reviewing every Medicare statement received for discrepancies, and always closely reviewing medical billing statements, instead of just blindly accepting the charges.


Third, the NYSOFA recommends that you immediately report any discrepancies or health fraud that you become aware of. Proper reporting of such issues to your local SMP as soon as you become aware of them will allow the local SMP office, as well as other federal agencies, to swiftly take action in order to minimize any damage that could occur to the health care benefits that you are allotted.


Obamacare will undoubtedly have significant impact on the healthcare benefits afforded to the elderly in New York. The confusion regarding these changes may expose the elderly to health care fraud and other related issues. The NYSOFA is so committed to preventing health law fraud against elderly New Yorkers that they have made it their goal to assist the elderly in protecting their rights, so that frauds are not easily perpetuated.


The Avanti Law Group: 3 Tips to Avoid Family Conflicts in Estate Planning

Whether you are creating an estate plan for the first time or making changes to one, be aware that how you plan to leave your assets may create tension in your family. Although the potential for conflicts can develop without a Will, different treatment of children or other beneficiaries as part of a well thought out and drafted estate plan can cause animosity among family members.



Family conflicts may develop for many reasons, such as when a loved one chooses to unequally divide their estate, leaves money in trust instead of a lump sum, or disinherits a family member.

North Carolina Estate Planning Conflict Resolution

How can one manage family conflicts in estate planning?

  1. Bring family together. Hold a family meeting that discusses the assets left to each child and family member. This will allow an opportunity for explaining important asset protection decisions and other considerations. These meetings also help to reduce tensions that could build later on should resentment develop between siblings. This is also an ideal time to bring up any existing health issues for which your family may need to plan.
  2. Choose and talk with your executor and agents. Many conflicts can be prevented if your executor and agents have a clear understanding of your wishes. You may have updated your beneficiaries and neglected to inform them or your executor of the changes, which can cause confusion later on. When it comes to decisions for your medical care, who have you granted power of attorney and are they aware of their responsibility?
  3. Use succession tools with an attorney. The types of trusts and business entities you choose to establish will offer different degrees of protection and benefits. For those who own family businesses, the interests of business partners and family heirs may conflict. Structure a business succession plan by working with a North Carolina estate planning attorney. Succession plans help preserve a company’s value for the business owners’ heirs. There are other planning techniques a lawyer can review with you that will greatly reduce the potential for family conflicts so that your assets are available for the family members you designate when they need them.

The Avanti Law Group: Diversity

Avanti Law Group is the largest women-owned and minority-owned firm in West Michigan.

Our commitment to diversity goes beyond ownership; we are equally committed to the development, advancement and retention of our minority professionals. Our attorneys more accurately represent the make-up of the communities where our clients operate, the make-up of their employees and of their client base. Our firm emphasizes in teamwork and collegiality; we value the differences in experience, perspective, and outlook that our legal and no legal staff brings to the firm. We draw upon the strengths of knowledgeable and skilled individuals who represent a variety of viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds to the delivery of the highest quality of legal services to individuals, corporations, and public sector entities.


For most, Diversity is a goal. At Avanti Law Group, diversity is a fact. As of April 2011:


  • 60% of our attorneys are women
  • 30% of our attorneys are minorities


Diversity Efforts


Avanti Law Group is actively involved in community and bar organizations that represent and promote the interests of minorities. We continuously sponsor business events and trade shows that seek to enhance diversity in the professional community.


The Firm’s Diversity Policy


It is the Firm’s policy to ensure equal employment opportunity without the discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, disability, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by the law. Our commitment to diversity is an integral part of every facet of our firm including our recruitment, hiring and training efforts as well as the organizations we belong to and programs we sponsor. Avanti Law Group values and celebrates its minority status.


Supplier Diversity


As both a women and minority-owned law firm, Avanti Law Group is committed to promoting diversity through our vendors. We actively seek targeted diverse businesses and provide them with the opportunity to partner with us to provide excellent services to our Firm and our clients. Avanti Law Group Supplier Diversity Program ensures cover that minority and women owned businesses are well represented and have an equal opportunity in our supplier selection process. For additional information on the firm’s diversity initiatives, please contact:


Raquel A. Salas


Diversity Coordinator

600 28th St SW

Wyoming, MI 49509

Telephone:  (616) 257-6807

Email: rsalas@avantilaw.com


To put our diverse team to work for you, contact us.

Awards & Recognition of the Avanti Law Group

Avanti Law Group, PLLC is a full service law firm providing a full range of interdisciplinary legal services to its clients. Both, the firm and the firm’s attorneys are recognized as leaders not only in the legal profession but also in the communities they serve. The following is a list of some of our awards and recognitions:



Attorney Raquel Salas named as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. March 2012, Grand Rapids, MI.


Avanti Law Group named as the #1 Top Women Owned Law Firm in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. March, 2011, Grand Rapids, MI.


Attorney Robert Anthony Alvarez named Hispanic Person of the Year 2010 by the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. March, 2011, Grand Rapids, MI.


Attorney Raquel Salas named as one of West Michigan’s 40 up-and-coming leaders by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, “40 Under 40.” November, 2009, Grand Rapids, MI.


Attorney Raquel Salas received Universidad del Este’s (Puerto Rico) Distinguished Alumni Award for outstanding service in the legal field by. May, 2009, Carolina, Puerto Rico.


Attorney Raquel Salas recognized as one of West Michigan’s “Women in Business” by MiBiz.


Attorney Meghan Moore received Bar and Gavel Award for outstanding service to Chicago-Kent, the community and the law profession.

The Avanti Law Group: Bankruptcy and Debt Settlement Services



Too many consumers feel that their debts are overwhelming and there is nothing they can do other than file a bankruptcy. Due to lack of information, many consumers turn prematurely to bankruptcy. We can help you avoid bankruptcy by settling your unsecured debts on your behalf.


We can help you settle some or all of the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Credit cards
  • Department store cards
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Bounced checks
  • And many others


However, there are situations where filing for bankruptcy might be the best option to get a fresh start. If so, Avanti Law Group, we will explain the bankruptcy process and help you understand your rights. We Are A Debt Relief Agency Representing People Filing For Bankruptcy Relief Under The Bankruptcy Code.