Caused $14.6 Million in Fraudulent Tax Refund Claims to be Filed with IRS
A Florida man was sentenced to 51 months in prison for his role in a nationwide tax fraud scheme that involved more than 200 participants in at least 19 states.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Aaron Aqueron, of Clermont, recruited clients to the fraud scheme by convincing them that their mortgages and other debts entitled them to tax refunds. Aqueron collected tax and financial information from the clients to send to co-conspirators, who prepared tax returns and other tax documents to submit to the IRS. These tax returns falsely claimed that banks and other financial institutions had withheld large amounts of income tax from the participants, thereby entitling the clients to a refund. In reality, the financial institutions had not paid any income to, or withheld any taxes from, these individuals. In total, the tax returns filed by Aqueron’s clients sought more than $14.6 million in tax refunds and caused the IRS to actually pay out more than $7.6 million.
Enforcement actions focused on tax and COVID-related fraud, money laundering, cybercrimes
Over 2,500 criminal investigations, the identification of more than $10 billion from tax fraud and financial crimes, and a nearly 90% conviction rate are just a few highlights from the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report PDF. The report, released details, statistics, important partnerships and significant criminal enforcement actions from IRS-CI, the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, for the past fiscal year, which began October 1, 2020 and ended September 30, 2021.
“IRS-CI agents are the only federal law enforcement officers with the authority to investigate criminal violations of the U.S. tax code. Their work reinforces the backbone of our voluntary compliance tax system – a system that funds services and benefits for our nation, including defense, infrastructure and education,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
Fumo v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 2021-31 | May 17, 2021 | Lauber, J. | Dkt. No. 17614-13
Taxpayer, a state senator with 30 years of service, was convicted on Federal criminal charges, including mail and wire fraud. One victim included a 501(c)(1) & (3) organization, exempt from Federal income tax. Taxpayer influenced the tax-exempt organization’s formation as, at his direction, three members of his senatorial staff incorporated the organization for the purposes of maintaining and improving the aesthetic appearance of the taxpayer’s district. At all periods in question, at least one member of the taxpayer’s staff worked for the charity organization as either President or Executive Director while remaining employed by the Senator. Taxpayer influenced, as chairman of a senate appropriations committee, funding for the charitable entity from public and private sources.
A resident of Palm Beach County, Florida, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for not reporting his foreign financial accounts from 2006 through 2015 and for willfully evading the assessment of millions in taxes from 2007 through 2014.
According to court documents, from 2003 through 2009, Dusko Bruer owned and operated a company that bought U.S.-made agricultural machinery and parts and sold them throughout the world. Bruer’s company had numerous employees and reaped millions of dollars in annual gross receipts. Despite its success, Bruer’s company did not file employment or corporate tax returns, nor did the company pay employment or income taxes. Furthermore, from 2003 forward, the company never paid Bruer a salary. Instead, Bruer directed that millions of dollars from the company’s bank accounts be used to pay his personal expenses, to make foreign investments, and to transfer funds to his family members.
The Internal Revenue Service today released the Criminal Investigation Division’s annual report, highlighting the agency’s successes and criminal enforcement actions taken in fiscal year 2020, the majority of which occurred during COVID-19. A key achievement was the identification of over $10 billion in tax fraud and other financial crimes.
“The special agents and professional staff who make up Criminal Investigation continue to perform at an incredibly high-level year after year,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Even in the face of a global pandemic, the CI workforce initiated nearly 1,600 investigations and identified $2.3 billion in tax fraud schemes. This is no small feat during a challenging year, and their work is critical to protecting taxpayers and the integrity of our tax system.”
Key focuses of CI in fiscal year 2020 included COVID-19 related fraud, cybercrimes, with an emphasis on virtual and cryptocurrencies, traditional tax investigations, international tax enforcement, employment tax, refund fraud and tax-related identity theft.
A federal grand jury indicted former CEO of Autonomy Sushovan Hussain, 52, a citizen and resident of the United Kingdom, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and multiple counts of wire fraud. According to the indictment filed last Nov. 10, Hussain allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud purchasers and sellers of securities of Autonomy Corporation plc (Autonomy) and Hewlett-Packard Company about the true performance of Autonomy’s business, its financial condition and its prospects for growth.
Thieves use taxpayers’ natural fear of the IRS and other government entities to ply their scams, including e-mail and phone scams, to steal your money. They also use phishing schemes to trick you into divulging your SSN, date of birth, account numbers, passwords and other personal data that allow them to scam the IRS and others using your name and destroy your credit in the process. They are clever and are always coming up with new and unique schemes to trick you.
These scams have reached epidemic proportions, and this article will hopefully provide you with the knowledge to identify scams and avoid becoming a victim.
The very first thing you should be aware of is that the IRS never initiates contact in any other way than by U.S. mail. So if you receive an e-mail or a phone call out of the blue with no prior contact, then it is a scam. DO NOT RESPOND to the e-mail or open any links included in the e-mail. If it is a phone call, simply HANG UP.
Additionally, it is important for taxpayers to know that the IRS:
The Justice Department just recently announced its latest catch: Peter Amrein, a Swiss citizen and former asset manager at a Swiss asset management firm. Mr. Amrein pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, to evade federal income taxes, and to file false federal income tax returns. By way of his allocution during the plea hearing, Mr. Amrein acknowledged entering into an agreement with U.S. taxpayer-clients and others to help U.S. taxpayers hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and to evade U.S. taxes on the income earned in those accounts.
The allegations in the superseding Information and the prior indictment lay out the sordid details. Mr. Amrein started out as a client advisor at a Swiss bank (Swiss Bank No. 3), later working his way up to an asset manager at a Swiss asset management firm (the Read More
Congress has given the IRS potent tools to collect taxes. The IRS can impose liens on a taxpayer’s property and can seize it through levy, all without prior judicial authorization. But for taxpayers who attempt to move or keep their assets offshore to circumvent IRS collections – beware of the writ of ne exeat republica.
The writ of ne exeat republica effectively prevents a person from leaving the Court’s jurisdiction and the IRS has demonstrated that where its efforts to seize a taxpayer’s property to collect his past due taxes, the IRS essentially seized the taxpayer instead.
Predictably, it takes some fairly serious misbehavior to lead a court to bar someone from traveling – and that is what happened to Charles and Kathleen Barrett of Colorado. Read More
A simple mistake, oversight, or your accountant’s malpractice may trigger an IRS criminal investigation. Specifically, unreported income, a false statement, the use of an impermissible accounting or banking service, or declaring too many deductions are things that could initiate an audit, which could then rise to the level of an IRS criminal investigation.
As you can imagine, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (“CID”) uses a vast array of tools to investigate a suspected tax evasion case or while conducting a criminal investigation. If you think about it, every employee of the IRS has a single task of ensuring that the IRS tax collections are maximized. IRS Special Agents, who work on the criminal tax cases, are no different. If you file your taxes, their goal is to prove that you may have Read More