Couple Indicted on Charges of Preparing False Tax Returns and Aggravated Identity Theft
Allegedly Obtained Over $1 Million in Fraudulent Refunds;
Allegedly Kept Book of Dependants to be Inserted in Client Tax Returns
Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Tyrone Robert Campbell, age 41, and Twanna Dorothea Campbell, age 32, of Baltimore, for conspiracy to and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns; wire fraud; and aggravated identity theft. The indictment was returned on April 29, 2010 and unsealed today upon the arrest of Twanna Campbell. Twanna Campbell is scheduled to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore today at 2:30 p.m. Tyrone Campbell remains at large.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge C. André Martin of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Tax return preparer fraud is a priority for the IRS-Criminal Investigation and we have committed many resources to investigating and prosecuting cases just like this,” stated C. André Martin, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Washington DC Field Office. “We are taking extra steps to help make sure people can count on their tax return preparer.”
According to the 53 count indictment, the Campbells owned and operated a tax preparation business, under various names, including Phoenix Tax World (Phoenix). The indictment alleges that from approximately January 2006, through April 2009, the Campbells prepared, and aided and assisted in the preparation and presentation of at least 600 fraudulent individual federal income tax returns and claimed over $1 million in fraudulent refunds, in order to enrich themselves through fees from their clients, including a percentage of the clients’ refunds.
The Campbells obtained larger tax refunds for their clients, and thereby claimed larger tax preparation fees for themselves, by preparing federal individual income tax returns that misstated wages and earnings, business losses, dependents’ information, and child care expenses. For example, the indictment alleges that Twanna Campbell maintained a book containing a list of names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of dependents who were unrelated to the clients, which the Campbells used to obtain larger tax refunds for their clients.
The indictment further alleges that the Campbells enrolled many of their clients in a Refund Anticipation Loan program. A Refund Anticipation Loan (“RAL”) is a short-term loan provided by a lender that is based on, and usually repaid by, an anticipated federal income tax refund. Phoenix provided its clients their 2006 tax year RAL by issuing each taxpayer a check from the lender. Phoenix would contact the client taxpayer once his or her RAL check was available and the client would generally pick up their RAL check at the Phoenix office. The indictment alleges that the Campbells directed the client to cash the check at a nearby pawn shop, and return to Phoenix’s offices to pay the Campbells a tax preparation fee in cash.
The indictment alleges that the Campbells also concealed from their clients the collection of an additional, undisclosed tax preparation fee. To collect this fee, the Campbells made an unauthorized request for a RAL for their clients. The undisclosed tax preparation fee was the amount that the lender subtracted from the client’s RAL on behalf of the tax preparer, in advance of making the loan available to the taxpayer. The fee amount was then wired by the lender directly to a bank account used by the Campbells.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $1 million, believed to be the proceeds of the scheme, and $96,480 seized from the Campbells’ residence on June 10, 2009.
The Campbells face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy; three years in prison and a $100,000 fine on each count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns; twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud; and two years’ mandatory imprisonment consecutive to any other term of imprisonment for aggravated identity theft.
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 thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Sujit Raman and Martin Clarke, who are prosecuting the case.