South Jersey Man Sentenced To 97 Months In Prison For Multi-Million-Dollar, Internet-Based Tax Fraud Conspiracy
WILMINGTON, Del. – Gary Crawford, age 42, of Bridgeton, New Jersey, was sentenced to 97 months in prison today for his role in a conspiracy to file hundreds of false federal income tax returns seeking First Time Home Buyer Credits for the 2008 tax year. Crawford also was order to pay $1,020,388.00 in restitution to the United States Treasury, and was sentenced to three years of supervised release, which will commence following his prison term.
According to statements made at today’s hearing and documents filed in court, Crawford and his co-conspirators used at least 47 Internet service accounts to file at least 358 fraudulent returns seeking the payment of $3,060,770 in tax refunds which were transferred into at least 30 bank accounts and more than 100 prepaid debit card accounts. All of the Internet service accounts and virtually all of the financial accounts were in names other than Crawford’s. The United States Treasury 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 sentencing hearing, United States Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III, stated, Tax frauds, such as that committed by Gary Crawford, hurt all those who pay their taxes and claim legitimate refunds. Fortunately, the IRS has programs in place to flag schemes like Crawford’s. When identified, such criminal activity will be prosecuted by this office and incarceration sought whenever justified.”
IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Akeia Conner said, “Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude and with this degree of trickery, dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. IRS Criminal Investigation and the United States Attorney's Office, remain vigilant in identifying, investigating and prosecuting those individuals who seek to undermine the integrity of the U.S. tax system.”
This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. McAndrew and Ilana H. Eisenstein.