Identity Theft Prosecutions, #10: Setting up fake charities, filing fake returns and buying a bar

The IRS’s Top Ten Identity Theft Prosecutions of 2014

The IRS has released another list of favorites – this time the Top Ten Identity Theft Prosecutions of 2014.  This series of posts will provide an overview of the cases that warranted this level of notoriety, as well as the resulting charges and sentencing.  

# 10:  Setting up fake charities, filing fake returns and buying a bar

Who

Jonathan Webster, age 34

Where

Ohio

What he did

Using stolen identities, Jonathan Webster filed more than 500 fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS for the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 income tax years. He worked on this tax scam from January 2010 until February 2013 and claimed $1,635,164 in refunds.  

How he did it

Webster set up fake charities such as “The Angel Charity” and “4 the Glory Charity.” He then placed advertisements in various newspapers promising financial assistance to needy individuals through these charities. Webster also set up a website where people responding to his ads were asked to input their personal identification information (e.g., name, social security number and date of birth). 

Most of the people whose identities Webster stole were destitute and therefore unlikely to file tax returns of their own. Webster proceeded to use the personal identification information provided to him by approximately 250 people in order to file false income tax returns in their names. He inserted false occupations, income and expense figures and claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit. Webster proceeded to collect tax refunds based on that fraudulent information. He had the refunds direct deposited into bank accounts that he controlled or had other people collect the money for him.   

Webster spent some of the fraudulent tax refund money on the purchase of a bar, despite the fact that he is an alcoholic with three alcohol-related traffic convictions – he was still on probation at the time he committed the identity theft and tax refund fraud.

The charges

Webster pleaded guilty to the following crimes:

The sentence

The judge was irate and sentenced Webster to nine years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay $1,457,936 in restitution to the IRS. Webster was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately following the hearing (something uncommon in white-collar criminal cases).

Criminal tax defense attorneys at your service

This case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigations (CI), which boasts a conviction rate of 93.4 percent – one of the highest in all of federal law enforcement. At the first indication that you are being investigated for a federal tax offense, you need to contact the experienced criminal tax defense attorneys at Moskowitz, LLP. We have an excellent track record in averting criminal proceedings and eliminating or reducing penalties.  Call our San Francisco office today for a consultation. 

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