FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
COLUMBUS, OHIO, MAN CHARGED IN TAX AND INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice announced today that a federal grand jury in Columbus, Ohio, returned a 34-count indictment charging Christopher M. Streifender on charges of mail and wire fraud, money laundering, preparing false tax returns and obstructing justice. Streifender operated an income tax return preparation business in Columbus.
According to the indictment, Streifender held himself out to be a knowledgeable tax attorney although he had resigned his Ohio law license in February 1997. The indictment charges that Streifender prepared tax returns claiming numerous false tax deductions for his clients. The indictment further alleges that he advised clients to enter into fraudulent investments by representing that they would generate tax benefits and investment income.
According to the indictment, Streifender solicited clients to invest in "sale leaseback" agreements, which he represented would allow the clients to purchase business equipment and lease it back to the original owner, permitting the clients to earn investment income and claim depreciation for the equipment on their individual income tax returns. The indictment alleges that Streifender took money from the clients but failed to make the investments, and instead used the money for his personal benefit and to make payments to other clients in order to perpetuate the scheme. The indictment alleges that Streifender defrauded four different clients of between $12,500 to $25,000 each, and that he prepared false federal income tax returns for the clients.
The indictment further alleges that Streifender laundered the funds obtained through the fraud scheme through a bank account in a nominee name that he controlled. The indictment finally alleges that Streifender attempted to obstruct justice by trying to persuade a witness to testify falsely before a federal grand jury with respect to the fraudulent nature of the "sale leaseback" agreements.
This matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service. The prosecution is being handled by David Williams and Richard Rolwing, trial attorneys with the Justice Department's Tax Division.
An indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Additional information about tax fraud schemes to watch out for can found on the IRS Criminal Investigation website at http://www.ustreas.gov/irs/ci/.