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Prison sentences handed down in false tax return scheme

The sentences sent a message. The eight individuals who conspired to net approximately $10 million in fraudulent tax refund money using stolen identities will spend between one and thirteen years in federal prison.

Criminal tax penalties to federal charges of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) are serious. In addition to the prison sentences, the Judge also ordered the co-defendants to pay significant restitution; one must repay $762,512 for his part in the conspiracy. The IRS Criminal Investigations has made it a priority to prosecute SIRF crimes.

Court documents detailed the role that numerous individuals played to pull off the scam. Initially, several of the defendants used their positions in military and state agencies to steal personal information. They then set up a sham tax business to file tax returns and obtained bank products that allowed them to access the refunds.

Later, they recruited workers at the U.S. Postal Service who would pick up refund checks from addresses on their routes. A Walmart money center employee helped cash refund checks made out to other individuals.

The parties communicated via numerous text messages and kept detailed records. The leaders of the scheme will serve 159 months and 145 months in federal prison. But the Walmart employee was also sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay significant restitution.

Anyone with even a minor role in facilitating SIRF can face severe punishment. If approached by authorities about a federal tax crime, it is important to say nothing until you can speak with a criminal tax defense attorney.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, “Eight Defendants Sentenced in $24 Million Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Ring,” Aug. 10, 2015

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