False Tax Filings Can Land You in Big Trouble with the Government

March 29th, 2019 by Tad Nelson in White Collar Crime

With income tax season upon us, many Houston-area residents are scrambling to gather their receipts and visit their accountants. Few of us consider getting taxes done a pleasurable task. But even fewer of us want to face potential criminal charges for white collar crimes, such as tax evasion, under-reporting of income, or filing fraudulent documents with the IRS.

Houston Man, Co-Conspirator Sentenced After Claiming 179 Fraudulent Tax Refunds

On the other hand, some people think they can game the system by filing false tax returns in an effort to collect a refund they are not legally entitled to. This can prove costly if–and when–the government figures out the scheme. Indeed, two Houston residents recently learned this lesson the hard way.

On March 12, 2019, a federal judge sentenced a 49-year-old man to more than five years in prison after he submitted 179 fraudulent tax returns to the IRS. The defendant’s co-conspirator, a 46-year-old woman, was due to be sentenced separately on March 15. As part of the sentence, the defendant must also pay nearly $30,000 in restitution to the federal government.

According to a criminal complaint filed in October 2017, the FBI arrested the defendant and his co-conspirator as part of an investigation into a “stolen identity refund fraud” (SIRF) ring based in Houston. Basically, the FBI said members of the SIRF ring obtained personal identifying information for approximately 400 people living in and around Columbus, Ohio. The ring then used this information to create and file fraudulent tax returns–and refund claims–with the IRS during the 2012, 2013, and 2014 tax years.

The FBI managed to trace the fraudulent returns to an internet protocol (IP) address belonging to the defendant’s co-conspirator. While executing a search warrant for her residence, the FBI said the co-conspirator “voluntarily made several self-incriminating statements about her involvement” in the SIRF ring. She also stated the defendant was the one who provided her with the stolen personal information used to fill out the fraudulent returns.

The defendant ultimately agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and identity theft. U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas sentenced the defendant to 41 months in federal prison on the conspiracy charge and 24 months for the identity theft–a total of 65 months, to be served consecutively. After completing his prison term, the defendant will be on probation for an additional three years.

Get Help from a Houston White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer

Every day we read stories in the news about data breaches that compromise personal information. As cases like this one illustrate, these breaches are not victimless crimes, and law enforcement will investigate and prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law. So if you have been accused of identity theft or tax fraud, you need to work with a Houston criminal defense lawyer who has experience in dealing with these types of white collar crimes. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (713) 802-1631 to speak with an attorney about your case today.

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