Two Maryland Women Indicted In Fraudulent Tax Refund Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Sheila Anderson-Cloude, a/k/a Sheila Anderson, age 33, of Nottingham, Maryland, and Tonia Patrice Lawson, age 42, of Baltimore, on charges related to a conspiracy to obtain fraudulent tax refunds, sometimes using the personal information of other individuals, without their knowledge or permission. The indictment was returned on June 11, 2013.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Kathryn Jones, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Washington Regional Office.
“The IRS continues to work closely with the tax preparation industry to protect the American public,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of IRS - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office. “Return preparer fraud is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation and we have committed many resources to investigating cases just like these. Taxpayers should be very selective in choosing a return preparer, and have confidence knowing that person will prepare accurate tax returns and safeguard their financial information.”
The 27-count indictment alleges that from February 8, 2010 through February 20, 2012, Anderson-Cloude and Lawson conspired to enrich themselves by filing and causing others to file false federal income tax returns in order to obtain tax refunds to which they were not entitled.
The indictment charges that Anderson-Cloude obtained the identifying information of individuals, including their names, dates of birth and social security numbers, in order to file fraudulent tax returns. According to the indictment, Anderson-Cloude then prepared and filed or caused to be filed at least 13 false federal tax returns, all of which fraudulently claimed refunds in amounts between $4,800 and $8,907. As a result of the filing of these false tax returns, the indictment alleges that Anderson-Cloude received seven tax refunds to which she was not entitled, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,372, and Lawson received four fraudulent tax refunds, in amounts ranging from $2,000 to $6,875. According to the indictment, Lawson made payments to some of the taxpayers, using funds obtained from the fraudulently tax refunds. Finally, the indictment alleges that when questioned by a Special Agent with IRS Criminal Investigations, Anderson-Cloude made false statements by claiming that she never kept more than $500 for preparing a return and that she never made up numbers to put on the tax returns she prepared.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for conspiring to defraud the government by claiming false tax refunds and for theft of public money. Anderson-Cloude also faces a maximum of five years in prison for each of 12 counts of making a false claim for a tax refund and for making a false statement. Anderson-Cloude also faces two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft. The defendants have an initial appearance scheduled for 3:45 p.m. today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised IRS Criminal Investigation and DOT-OIG for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Gregory R. Bockin, who is prosecuting the case.