A tax preparer couple has been arrested for filing false tax returns and diverting their clients’ refund money to their own bank accounts.

Shannon Elaine Ford, 32, and Michael Joseph Ford, 31, of Redding, Calif., were arrested for felony criminal offenses related to the filing of false tax returns. Shannon Ford has been charged with conspiracy, 34 counts of filing false tax returns, 17 counts of bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Michael Ford is similarly charged with conspiracy, five counts of filing false tax returns, and seven counts of bank fraud.

The couple operated a tax prep business and allegedly recruited clients by promising them large returns. The Fords filed more than 34 tax returns with false Schedule C forms claiming income from nonexistent small businesses and over $159,000 in false refunds. The couple allegedly misdirected federal and state tax refund checks to their own personal bank and credit union accounts. Their scheme operated from March 2004 to March 2007 and involved more than 20 victims.

The case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration.

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