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Tax offenders facing fraud charges

A large group of current and former California residents are facing criminal charges for alleged tax fraud after they allegedly participated in identity theft to recover bogus tax returns. A total of 55 people have been accused of being involved in the organized tax fraud, which was outlined in four large indictments from a federal grand jury in the case.

Authorities report that some 2,000 identities were stolen during the fraudulent activity, which resulted in $7 million in payouts from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS even paid money to some individuals who were deceased when the returns were filed. So far, more than 20 defendants have been identified and arrested in connection with the case, but 33 remain at large. Of those, 21 are believed to be out of the country, ostensibly to avoid prosecution associated with the two-year-long investigation into the matter.

The investigation required cooperation from a variety of law enforcement agencies, which were encouraged to collaborate with the FBI throughout the search.

Official reports show that several of the defendants are accused of fabricating tax return data to include falsified gambling winnings and losses, along with a significant amount of money claimed in wages and federal withholding tax. The returns had claimed a whopping $17 million in fraudulent refunds. It appears that many of the on-the-ground workers in this case were foreign nationals who were in the country on J-1 and F-1 visas, ostensibly to work, travel and study. These individuals, from former Soviet-bloc countries, obtained jobs at local banks in order to launder the proceeds, according to official accusations. Many of the lower-level individuals associated with the crimes have returned to their home countries.

It is not yet clear whether the defendants' home countries will extradite them to face charges in this country. This stands to be a relatively difficult international law case. Still, these defendants deserve the fair due process guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution, which provides legal protection for all mounting a criminal defense.

Source: www.fbi.gov, "More Than 50 People Indicted in Massive Fraud Ring" No author given, Sep. 26, 2013

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