New Jersey Man Convicted of Promoting Tax Fraud Scheme
A federal jury sitting in Camden, New Jersey, convicted an Atlantic City man of conspiring to defraud the United States, filing false claims, and obstructing the internal revenue laws, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to evidence presented at trial, between 2015 and 2016, Kenneth Crawford Jr., and his co-conspirators promoted and sold a “mortgage recovery” tax fraud scheme in which they obtained for their clients fraudulent refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Crawford promoted the scheme to individuals who were facing foreclosure or behind on their mortgage payments, and represented to them that they could extinguish their outstanding mortgage debts by filing tax forms with the IRS. As part of the scheme, Crawford and his co-conspirators caused clients to file forms that fraudulently claimed that a substantial amount of taxes had already been withheld from them. These false withholding claims caused the IRS to authorize significant refunds to which the clients were not entitled. As a result of Crawford’s scheme, more than $2.5 million in fraudulent refunds were sought from the IRS, of which the IRS paid out more than $1.3 million. Crawford charged his clients a fee of roughly 25 percent of the refund obtained.
When the IRS discovered the fraud and attempted to recover the previously issued refunds, Crawford provided clients with false and fraudulent documents to send to the IRS, directed clients to conceal from the IRS his role in filing the false returns, and advised clients to remove funds from bank accounts in their names in order to thwart IRS collection efforts.
U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler scheduled sentencing for March 20, 2020. As a result of his conviction, Crawford faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, five years in prison for each false claim count, and three years in prison for obstructing the internal revenue laws. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
Crawford is currently detained pending sentencing as a result of his conviction, and for previously violating his conditions of pretrial release.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Tax Division Trial Attorney Sean Green and Assistant Chief John Kane, who are prosecuting the case. He also thanked the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for its assistance and support during the investigation and prosecution of this case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.