James Snyder grew up in Humboldt Park, a crime-infested area of Chicago. He dropped out of high school at age 15 and began a life of crime, alcoholism and penury. Snyder married his girlfriend, Ann, at an early age and they had four children. A few years later, James divorced Ann and went into treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction. While in rehab he met Shelia, and within a year the two married. It was James's second marriage and Shelia's first. Five years later, Snyder, Shelia and their two young children moved to North Carolina to begin a new life, and Snyder's contact with his first wife and their four children diminished. Snyder moved his family into a paltry home in northeast Charlotte, another neighborhood known for crime and poverty.
James found it difficult to land a job in Charlotte that paid well because he had no real skills. He had not had steady work before and had made money in Chicago doing odd jobs. In North Carolina, he applied for and received welfare payments, but they were not sufficient to cover his and his family's cost of living. Financial need led James to seek out other means of support. His lack of education and simplistic lifestyle would not have made him a suspect in an elaborate Internet fraud scheme.
The Internal Revenue Service's Processing Center routinely searched filed tax returns for fraud using various detection methods. The IRS processors had seen countless variations of tax scams, ...