January 31, 2024 at 2:50 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In conjunction with the 2024 tax season kicking off today, the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Charlotte Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina urge taxpayers to be aware of tax-related fraud.
Tax crimes to look out for include questionable refund schemes, return preparer fraud, abusive tax schemes, and more. This tax season, CI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office continue to crack down on schemes victimizing U.S. taxpayers.
“Investigating and prosecuting tax fraudsters is a priority of this Office,” said Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. “Our experienced criminal tax prosecutors work diligently with investigators to ensure compliance with federal tax laws for the benefit of all our citizens. Tax fraud is not a victimless crime. Tax cheats harm law-abiding citizens whofile honest andaccurate tax returnsand paytheir fair share of the nation’s tax burden. Our taxes support important services provided in our communities and I will vigorously pursue tax fraudsters who enjoy those services while requiring others to pay for them,” U.S. Attorney King added.
“Those who consider preparing false tax returns during this tax season are subjecting themselves to potential criminal prosecution and other penalties,” said Donald "Trey" Eakins, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Charlotte Field Office. “It is important for people to have confidence in the tax system. The IRS CI and U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue our aggressive pursuit of those who attempt to defraud America's tax system."
In fiscal year 2023 alone, CI initiated 1,409 tax crime investigations and identified $5.5 billion in tax fraud. Six hundred and fifty-five defendants were sentenced for tax crimes during the last fiscal year. Recent cases in the Western District of North Carolina include:
Charlotte tax preparer Jessica Earlene Truesdale prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns on behalf of her clients and earned at least $1 million in return preparation fees, which were paid directly from her clients’ refunds. Truesdale used several methods to falsify clients’ tax returns, including claiming false filing status and exemptions, American Opportunity credits, education credits, and earned income tax credits. As a result of the false information contained in the fraudulent returns, Truesdale’s clients reduced their tax liabilities and received inflated tax refunds. To further conceal the fraud, Truesdale failed to review the completed tax returns with clients, except to inform them of the amounts of their refunds. Truesdale was sentenced to 20 months in prison on July 18, 2023, for preparing and filing false tax returns. She was also ordered to serve one year of supervised release after completing her prison term and to pay $1,177,615 in restitution.
Tijan Mboob, known as a “Ghost Preparer,” was charged in March 2023 with tax fraud in a 20-count criminal indictment, for aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of false returns over a five-year period. Mboob allegedly prepared hundreds of fraudulent returns for his clients and failed to identify himself as a paid tax preparer on the tax returns he submitted to the IRS on behalf of his clients, despite being compensated for his services. The IRS requires paid return preparers to provide information, including name, address and phone number for the preparer, Federal Tax Identification or Social Security Number and PTIN number as well as other information. These returns also contained fabricated and fraudulent items, including false filing status, false American Opportunity and education credits, false itemized deductions, and false reforestation credits. The fraudulent returns prepared by Mboob resulted in the overall reduction in tax liability on behalf of his clients and their receipt of large refunds totaling $4.7 million dollars.
CI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office urge U.S. taxpayers to be vigilant this tax season:
- Avoid return preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers or whose fee is a percentage of your tax refund.
- Use a reputable tax professional who signs and enters a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) on your tax return and provides you with a copy of the return for your records.
- Never sign a blank tax form and ensure your refund goes to your account, not your tax preparer’s.
- Protect your personal and financial information. Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your tax return or those claiming to be from the IRS. These messages are fraudulent and could contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
- Report fraud to law enforcement. Submit Form 3949-A, Information Referral, if you suspect an individual or a business is committing fraud.
The 2024 Tax Filing Season begins today, and the deadline to file, pay any tax owed or request an extension to file for most of the nation is April 15. The deadline for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts is April 17. For more tips on how to choose a tax preparer or file a complaint, visit IRS.gov.
CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.
The CI Charlotte Field Office is committed to protecting North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee taxpayers.
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