Identity theft is a huge problem in the United States. People are constantly getting their information compromised by hackers and others who know how to misuse data. This impacts victims in many ways, but those who are caught can also face stiff penalties, depending on the situation.
A woman in Maryland helped clients engage in identity theft so they could file fraudulent tax returns. In late December 2019, the woman, who operated a business in Gaithersburg, pled guilty to aggravated identity theft and assisting in filing false tax returns. As a result, she now faces five years in prison.
The 53-year-old woman from Montgomery Village would prepare tax returns for clients at her office. In 2011, she began filing fake tax returns for clients. She did this by altering W-2 forms. She would use fake Social Security numbers or the numbers of past clients in order to pull off this scheme.
The forms were filed under the new clients’ names and file with the IRS. These clients would receive state and federal tax refunds that they were not entitled to receive. The woman even filed a fake tax return for her own benefit. She received a fraudulent refund, which she deposited in her personal bank account.
This went on for six years before the woman was caught. In total, the woman’s fraudulent activities cost the government more than $100,000.
The woman faces sentencing on April 2. Both charges comes with mandatory minimum sentences. She could spend five years in prison—two years for aggravated identity theft and another three years for her role in preparing fraudulent tax returns.
Filing fraudulent tax returns is a federal crime. That’s because it involves government agencies such as the IRS. Fraud in small amounts may go undetected for some time, but larger amounts will be discovered eventually. Huge amounts of theft will more than likely be caught by the IRS, which has safeguards in place, such as audit computers and a whistleblower program.
For tax fraud involving smaller amounts (under $100,000), penalties can include a fine of $5,000 or 100% of the unpaid tax. If the IRS is accusing you of high dollar tax fraud, be prepared for a long process. You’ll need a competent attorney to guide you.
To be found guilty of filing a fraudulent tax return, the IRS has to be able to prove that you intentionally and knowingly lied on your tax-related documents. This includes leaving certain income off tax statements or altering forms to show incorrect information.
Identity theft is a common crime. Many people have ways of altering personal information for their benefit. This crime, however, impacts victims in many ways and can cause a lifetime of harm.
If you are facing identity theft charges, you can face serious penalties as well as harm to your reputation. Get help from a Columbia white collar crime lawyer at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. He can help you achieve a favorable outcome. To schedule a free consultation, call (410) 774-5987 or fill out the online form.
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