I like to commend individuals when they go above and beyond to put additional effort toward a task. There is a certain joy in watching the hard work of another turn into success, especially when we are talking about fighting fraud. I get that same great feeling when I witness the success of fraud crackdowns as a product of government agencies teaming together. According to a press release from the Seattle Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), joint efforts from government agencies were the right combination to send a tax refund fraudster to prison for hard time.
An investigation led by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Protective Service (FPS) and the U.S. Marshal Service captured a man behind an ongoing tax refund scam that targeted his family, friends and strangers. (It’s this kind of team work and combined use of resources enables the government to bring criminals like this to see proper justice.) The fraudster is a Washington man who claimed to be a member of the “Sovereign Citizen” movement, which professes a belief that both state and federal government entities are illegitimate. He is responsible for participating in OID fraud by submitting or helping others to submit false tax refund applications by misrepresenting that he was a tax expert with IRS contacts.
Court documents reveal both the IRS and a court judge informed the fraudster on prior occasions that his actions of posing as a tax expert to submit false or fictitious funds were illegal. Investigators explained the man worked with his wife, “aggressively [promoting his scheme], both locally in the Western District of Washington, at seminars in California and among tax filers in Arizona and Hawaii. The U.S. District Judge on the case commented: “Your scheme…is fraud at its core. You are hurting people intentionally, regardless of your adherence to [your beliefs].” (i.e., You committed a crime, now you’ll serve the time.) Court documents revealed the fraudster assisted individuals in claiming refunds upwards to $590,000. He also used the scam to claim $30,000 for himself and his wife. After fair warning, the man was convicted of five counts of filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims, 15 counts of assisting in filing false tax returns, three counts of mail fraud and one count of criminal intent. He was sentenced to 97 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $705,276. His wife was convicted of four counts of filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims and is awaiting sentencing.
This is the type of teamwork we need on the frontlines to fight and prevent fraud. This should be fair warning to fraudsters – our government agency dream teams are ramping up their efforts to introduce you to some much needed justice.