Local Tax Preparer Indicted On Fraud Charges
St. Louis, MO – EDWARD JONES (an individual not connected with the company Edward Jones) was indicted on multiple fraud charges involving his alleged scheme to use stolen identities to obtain federal tax refunds.
According to the indictment, between February 2009 and April 2012, Jones devised a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and financial institutions by enticing them to issue electronic tax refunds and prepaid debit cards in the identities of others. Jones represented himself as a federal income tax preparer and state property tax credit preparer. In that role, Jones obtained the names, birth dates, and social security numbers of individuals who desired him to prepare and electronically file federal income tax returns or state property tax credit forms. In order to maximize the refunds, Jones fraudulently claimed that the tax filers were self-employed individuals with unsubstantiated business deductions and entitled to earned income credit as a result of the misrepresentation that the tax filers had dependents. As a result of the misrepresentations, the tax returns prepared by defendant resulted in the fraudulent payment of substantial tax refunds. Furthermore, Jones misdirected some of the fraudulently obtained tax returns from the tax filers to himself by instructing the Internal Revenue Service to electronically deposit the tax refunds into prepaid debit card accounts he controlled.
"The IRS has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority and we will vigorously pursue those who undermine the integrity of the U.S. tax system," said Sybil Smith, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation.
Jones, St. Louis, Missouri, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two felony counts of mail fraud, two felony counts of making false claims and two felony counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment was returned April 9. He appeared in federal court earlier today.
If convicted, each count of mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; each false claims count carries five years in prison; aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term; all with fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.