On March 5, 2018, a former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee, Pamela Pringle, was sentenced in the Eastern District of California for "making opportunities for persons to defraud the United States and for making and subscribing false returns." While employed by the IRS, Pringle prepared and filed income tax returns for other individuals that included false deductions, and in several years she also filed fraudulent tax returns for herself, claiming deductions to which she was not entitled. Pringle entered a guilty plea in November 2017 and will spend 5 months in prison, then 36 months under supervised release, including 5 months of home confinement; she was also ordered to pay $56,857 in restitution.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has included phone scams on its "Dirty Dozen" list of common tax scams for the 2018 filing season. Taxpayers should be aware of criminals posing as IRS agents and making threatening or aggressive demands for money through phone calls. According to the IRS, this is the time of year when they see a jump in the number of reports of scam phone calls threatening potential victims with arrest, deportation, or license revocation if payment demands are not met immediately.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) kicked off its annual "Dirty Dozen" awareness campaign about common tax scams for 2018 with a reminder that phishing schemes are still a serious threat to personal information safety, and are evolving. The most recent variation on phishing (previously described here) involves an unexpected deposit into the bank account of a target. Criminals are filing fraudulent tax returns, and directing refunds to be deposited into real bank accounts of victims. The criminals then call the victim who received the deposit and demand the return of the funds as erroneous.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers about a new, multi-layer scam this tax season: erroneous refunds. Criminals are filing fraudulent returns to get money deposited into victims' accounts using data stolen from tax professionals, then posing as debt collection agency officials to request that the victims "return" the money due to an error. Other victims are receiving recorded messages threatening the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges and other consequences if the erroneous refund is not returned.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released the fiscal year 2017 annual report for its Criminal Investigation Division (CI). During FY 2017, CI initiated over 3,000 cases concerning Title 18 and Title 31 crimes, with 72.5% of its investigation time spent on tax matters such as refund fraud, identity theft, abusive tax schemes, and cyber crimes. Its investigations identified $2.5 billion in funds related to tax fraud, and the division had a 91.5% overall conviction rate.
On October 6, 2017, Shiv D. Kumar, the sole shareholder of a California transportation company that serves disabled individuals, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for filing false corporate returns. The Department of Justice found that Kumar provided his accountant with false books and records, leading to the underreporting of the business' income to the IRS by over $2 million per year in 2009 and 2010.
No one is beyond the certainty of taxes, as a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California, discovered last week. Hien Minh Nguyen was sentenced to 36 months in prison for taking cash and checks donated to the Diocese by parishioners and depositing them into his personal bank account to pay for personal expenses. The court found that the priest embezzled a total of $1.4 million from the Catholic Church and, by concealing the embezzlement from his return preparer, evaded over $500,000 in income taxes owed to the IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a warning to tax professionals to be alert to a new e-mail scam that impersonates tax software providers and attempts to steal usernames and passwords. Recipients of these e-mails are told that, due to a recent software upgrade, the tax preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider's actual login page. However, instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers' accounts and steal client information.
Susanne D. Rüegg Meier, a citizen and resident of Switzerland, pleaded guilty on July 19, 2017, to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and other Swiss bankers to defraud the United States as the head of a team of bankers for Credit Suisse AG between 2002 and 2011. She was responsible for the accounts of over 1,000 clients and handled approximately $400 million in assets. Her conduct led to an estimated U.S. tax loss of between $3.5 and $9.5 million. Sentencing in this case is scheduled for early September 2017; Rüegg Meier faces a maximum of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, and restitution penalties.
On April 25, 2017, eight suspects were arrested in Miami, Florida, by agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSAOIG) for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The indictments against these individuals include charges for involvement in schemes to impersonate IRS agents in order to obtain money from victims by falsely representing that the victims owed back taxes or other fees. The suspects allegedly defrauded over 7,000 victims out of almost $8.8 million.