Some of our favorite recent tax fraud cases.

Fontana, Calif.: Preparer Kismaea Rouzan has pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false returns.

According to authorities, in 2011 and 2012, she owned and operated Mobile Tax Preparers, where she obtained personal identification information, including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and addresses of taxpayers from “runners” also involved in the scheme. Rouzan used the personal identifying information to prepare fraudulent returns filed in the names of the taxpayers.

Refunds were deposited directly into Rouzan’s bank accounts in full or were split between her bank accounts and prepaid debit cards and divided between Rouzan, the runners and taxpayers.

During the 2010 and 2011 tax years, Rouzan prepared or caused to be prepared more than 400 fake returns, resulting in a total loss of $846,782. She faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison on February 29. She also agreed to pay restitution in excess of $800,000 to the IRS.

Indianapolis: Preparer Amber Lynch, 34, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for preparing and filing false returns.

Lynch, who authorities said was a former employee of H&R Block, prepared returns from her home. The IRS flagged some 400 returns she completed between 2010 and 2013 after detecting a pattern of household help income, abnormal student loan interest and education credits.

Several of her client taxpayers interviewed by investigators stated that many deductions listed by Lynch on their returns were completely false; she also filed returns for one client two consecutive years without the client’s authorization. She attempted to steal more than $400,000.

Alexandria, Va.: Tax preparer Sean M. Weaver, 34, has been sentenced to 71 months in prison and been ordered to pay $20.4 million in restitution to victims of a mail-fraud and money-laundering scheme.

According to court documents, Weaver, who pleaded guilty in August, was a member of the transaction tax practice group in the Arlington office of Ryan LLC, a tax services firm in Dallas. The group specialized in submitting claims to state and local taxing authorities to obtain refunds of sales and/or use tax overpayments made by the company’s corporate clients; Weaver managed a team of 10 to 15 employees and was responsible for submitting claims to the state taxing authorities on behalf of clients.

Between October 2011 and December 2014, Weaver submitted and caused to be submitted several false claims for sales or use tax refunds to the Virginia Department of Taxation and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts on behalf of two clients. He manipulated client transactional data and falsified invoices and other transactional records to inflate the amount of tax actually paid by the clients during certain transactions.

As a result, the state taxing authorities issued more than $20 million in fraudulent refunds to Ryan clients and Weaver received more than $350,000 in personal bonus payments generated by the scheme. As part of the plea agreement, Weaver agreed to forfeit $250,480.09 seized by the United States as property involved in the offense and the value of his account with a peer-to-peer lending company. 

San Diego: Preparer Melissa Ann Vega, a.k.a. Lisa Vega, has pleaded guilty to filing more than 4,000 false income tax returns to obtain more than $7 million in bogus refunds.

Vega, owner of L&T Works, entered her plea to charges of conspiracy to file false, fictitious and fraudulent claims for federal tax refunds, tax evasion and aggravated ID theft.

According to her plea agreement, Vega conspired with others from at least December 2009 through last April to submit thousands of false returns to fraudulently obtain undeserved refunds. Vega falsified clients’ returns without their knowledge or consent, claiming thousands of dollars in false education expenses and tax credits.

Vega told her co-conspirators and employees that they should maximize clients’ refunds by filing for a $4,000 education credit even though the client did not attend school for that tax year. She also intentionally omitted her name and preparer ID number on the false returns.

Vega’s fraud cost the IRS more than $7 million in inflated refunds based solely on the false education credits. Moreover, she admitted that she and co-conspirators stole the identities of other persons, including minors, and used them on the false returns to further inflate the refunds.

In addition to charging her clients between $150 and $200 per return, Vega stole more than $300,000 in false refunds from her clients. Vega also admitted that she evaded her own income taxes and filed personal returns in which she fraudulently claimed withholding credits, education credits and tax credits for minor dependents that she did not support and who were not related to her.

According to court documents, Vega evaded more than $156,000 in taxes due to the IRS for tax years 2009 through 2013. 

The plea agreement also sets forth a forfeiture provision whereby Vega, a previously convicted felon, surrendered several firearms seized from her residence during the execution of a search warrant in April 2014, including a sawed-off shotgun, a 9-mm. handgun and ammunition. Vega’s husband, Jamie Lang, pleaded guilty to possessing the unregistered sawed-off shotgun and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Vega consented in her plea agreement to the forfeiture of approximately $18,600 in cash also seized during the search warrant, proceeds of her tax fraud. She also agreed to be permanently enjoined from preparing or filing federal income tax returns for anyone other than herself. A civil complaint will be filed against Vega and a permanent injunction entered to prevent Vega from acting as a preparer in the future.   

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