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California tax preparer sentenced for fraud

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | White Collar Crimes

A California man has been sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison for fraudulently seeking more than $10 million in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service and more than a dozen state tax authorities. In late 2023, a federal jury found the 66-year-old Victorville resident guilty of aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States government. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Identity theft

During the trial, federal prosecutors established that the man used Social Security numbers taken from identity-theft victims to file fraudulent tax returns and seek millions of dollars in refunds. Prosecutors described the man’s activities as a “massive fraud scheme” that began in 2013 and spanned three continents. U.S. attorneys claimed that the man filed fraudulent returns in California and a dozen other states, obtained fake identification documents from Thailand and rented office space in Costa Rica.

Money trail

Investigators from the IRS, Department of Homeland Security and Postal Inspection Service gathered evidence of the man’s fraud crimes by following where the refunds went. They discovered the money was often sent to prepaid debit cards that had been sent to commercial mailboxes. Investigators also traced the IP address the man used to file fraudulent tax returns to office space he rented in Central America. In addition to handing down a custodial sentence, the judge ordered the man to pay $1,230,175 in restitution to his victims.

Trials are rare in white-collar cases

This man was found guilty by a jury, which rarely happens in cases involving white-collar crimes. The financial and electronic trails that investigators followed in this case provided prosecutors with very compelling evidence. Financial documents and wire transfer records are often the most important pieces of evidence in white-collar crime cases, which is why the people accused of fraud, embezzlement or bribery usually choose to enter into negotiated plea agreements.