by Brian Mahany
How could I resist – I read a post on an offshore fraud LinkedIn group offering to help me “conduct anonymously [my] banking and financial transaction[sic].” The offer came from a “Private and Independent International Banker (Canadian citizen).” The offer also promised to help me conduct my transactions with the secrecy and privacy I deserve.
At first I thought the post was a parody or joke. Of all places to post, why choose a group that is frequented by law enforcement officers from around the world? Next, I thought it might be some sort of trap or sting operation run by the feds. (I realized that they would not have made so many grammatical errors, however.)
Finally I realized that this is simply another “international banker” all to willing to help Americans and others commit tax evasion.
Our readers know that opening up an account is not illegal. For many people it makes good economic sense. Trying to keep that account “secret” from the government is a felony, however. Right or wrong, Congress says we must report offshore accounts to the IRS. The account itself isn’t taxable but any income from that account (interest, dividends or capital gains) could be.
Most of these offshore promoters are careful – they rarely say “we will help you hide your money from the IRS.” They do use buzz words such as “privacy” and “anonymously,” however. They also routinely fail to tell their customers that foreign accounts must be declared.
I clicked on the link and learned that “Jean” offered to anonymously set up accounts in Belize, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Dubai. In some cases the minimum investment is a mere $50,000.
“Jean” had a link to view his complete profile, however there was nothing there. Just a hushmail email address.
Legitimate international bankers usually have elaborate websites, office addresses, telephone numbers and detailed biographies of the principals and the firm. There was none of that on Jean’s website.
Is Jean legitimate? I have no idea. The point, however, is to be vigilant and remember that “anonymously” doesn’t sit well with Uncle Sam. If you presently have an unreported offshore bank or brokerage account, give us a call. The IRS currently has an amnesty program (the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program or OVDP / OVDI) that offers lower penalties and a “get out of jail free” card.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct) or by email at . All inquiries are completely confidential. Our tax lawyers can help with all of your offshore reporting issues including FBAR filings and the new FATCA law.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Tax Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine & Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tax cases accepted in all states.