Skip to main content
Press Release

Hyattsville Man Pleads Guilty to Fraudulent Tax Refund Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Obtained Over $391,000 in Fraudulent Tax Refunds

Greenbelt, Maryland – Norman D. West, age 48, of Hyattsville, Maryland and Washington, D.C. pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit theft of public money in connection with a fraudulent tax refund scheme.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Jeffrey S. DeWitt, Chief Financial Officer of the Washington, D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, Criminal Investigation Division; and John L. Phillips, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, U.S. Department of the Treasury - Office of Inspector General.

According to West’s plea agreement, West is a musician and operated a putative tax preparation business known as “Flash Cash Financial,” or “Flash Cash,” which had a purported business address in Baltimore, Maryland. 

West and his co-conspirators obtained the personal information of “recruits” which West used to file false tax returns in order to generate a fraudulent refund.  West initially marketed his scheme using flyers placed in low income areas and the relied upon word of mouth.  West paid a co-conspirator a $100 referral fee per recruit. West and his co-conspirators obtained the identities of at least 197 individuals. Using the personal information of those individuals, West made up the rest of the tax returns in order to generate refunds. West listed false wages, falsely claimed educational tax credits, and falsely claimed earned income tax credit.

West filed 197 federal tax returns that claimed $391,553 in fraudulent tax refunds, all of which was issued by the IRS.  In addition, West filed 28 fraudulent returns with the District of Columbia, which generated an additional $16,668.30 in fraudulent refunds.  All of the refunds were deposited in bank accounts opened by West in the name of Flash Cash.  West paid the recruits a small portion of the fraudulent refunds, usually about $500, and kept the rest for himself and his co-conspirators.

The total tax loss is $408,221.30, which is the amount West is required to pay in restitution as part of his plea agreement.  West faces a maximum sentence of five year in prison. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for September 21, 2015 at 1:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the IRS-CI, the Washington, D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Department of Treasury Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Bockin, who is prosecuting the case.

Updated February 4, 2016