South Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Internet-Based Tax Fraud Conspiracy Involving First Time Home Buyer Credits
WILMINGTON, Del. - Gary Crawford, age 41, of Bridgeton, New Jersey, pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by using the Internet to file over one hundred federal income tax returns for the tax year 2008 that falsely claimed First Time Home Buyer Credits and other deductions.
Crawford, who is also known as “Gary Taxes,” will be sentenced on November 8, 2012 by United States District Judge Richard G. Andrews. He faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Crawford also faces up to three years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Crawford has been detained since his November 2, 2011 arrest.
According to statements made at today’s hearing and documents filed in court, Crawford admitted that he was responsible for the filing of over 100 fraudulent tax returns in the names of other individuals between January and September 2009. Crawford also admitted that the intended loss to the United States from the tax fraud conspiracy exceeds $1 million. As part of his plea agreement, Crawford will be ordered to repay at least $1,020,388 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Prosecutors intend to argue during the sentencing phase of the case that the scope of the conspiracy is even larger than Crawford was willing to admit. The government intends to present evidence showing that the conspiracy involved the use of 47 Internet service accounts to file at least 358 fraudulent returns seeking the payment of $3,060,770 in tax refunds into at least 30 bank accounts and at least 100 pre-paid debit card accounts. All of the Internet service accounts and virtually all of the financial accounts were in names other than Crawford’s. The government also intends to present evidence showing that the IRS actually paid out $2,265,254 in refunds on 293 fraudulent returns filed by Crawford and his co-conspirators.
The tax fraud scheme was uncovered in 2009, when the IRS’s Fraud Detection Center flagged a large number of false, electronically filed 2008 personal income tax returns seeking First Time Home Buyer Credits by individuals claiming to have purchased homes in Salem and Penns Grove, New Jersey. The First Time Home Buyer Credit permitted a taxpayer to receive a credit of up to $8,000 if the individual purchased a qualifying home between April 8, 2008 and December 1, 2009. To receive the credit, the taxpayer must have been employed and have owed taxes against which the credit could be applied. The IRS confirmed that the individuals listed in the fraudulent returns had not actually purchased homes and, in many cases, had not been employed by the companies listed in their tax returns during 2008.
Following the plea hearing, United States Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III, stated, “Gary Crawford and his co-conspirators sought to obtain millions of dollars in public funds by fraudulently exploiting a tax program designed to aid first-time homebuyers in a time of economic peril for our country. By using internet and bank accounts in others’ names, Crawford tried to hide his involvement in the scheme. Those who seek to defraud the government into paying improper tax refunds should expect to be caught, prosecuted and, when convicted, imprisoned.”
"Those who find ways to fraudulently benefit from government programs meant to help struggling taxpayers will be held accountable," said Akeia Conner, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Philadelphia field office. "We are pleased to work with the Department of Justice to bring this type of scam to the courts and to compel such persons to face justice.”