California Men Sentenced To More Than Six Years For International Tax Fraud Scheme
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle has sentenced T’Andre McNeely (Los Angeles, CA) and Michael Carr (Los Angeles, CA) each to six years and six months in federal prison for wire fraud conspiracy relating to their participation in a large-scale international tax fraud scheme. Both Carr and McNeely had pleaded guilty on December 28, 2021. A third conspirator, Brandon Williams, pleaded guilty to wire fraud on March 29, 2022. His sentencing is scheduled for June 23, 2022.
According to court documents, from Summer 2014 through approximately Spring 2018, Carr, McNeely, and Brandon Williams operated a scheme to defraud the United States government of more than $17 million through the filing of false and fraudulent tax returns in the names of hundreds of identity theft victims. The conspirators used sophisticated cyber means to obtain the personal data used to file the tax returns. Conspirators—including individuals located in Nigeria and Vietnam—then prepared and filed the returns quickly and in large batches. The tax returns were filed from real CPA firms across the United States, all of whom had been hacked.
Carr and McNeely were hired by a Nigeria-based conspirator to collect the proceeds of the tax fraud and send those proceeds to him in Nigeria. Carr and McNeely opened bank accounts, obtained prepaid debit cards, and provided addresses to which tax fraud proceeds could be deposited or mailed. Cards and accounts that McNeely and Carr obtained were used on thousands of false and fraudulent tax returns claiming in excess of $17 million in refunds, to which the conspirators were not entitled.
“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime, and is in fact a crime against the American people. The defendants conspired with foreign nationals to steal the identities of U.S. taxpayers, using cyber tools to breach accounting firms’ security protocols, all for the purpose of lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains” said Special Agent in Charge Mark H. Pearson. “Let this case serve as notice to criminals domestic and foreign, that our investigators are some of the best in the business, and they’re committed to protecting this country and the American public from identity theft and financial fraud.”
This case was investigated by the Tampa and Oakland Field Offices the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the Tampa Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Special assistance was provided by the Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles Field Offices of the IRS-CI, and the Tampa Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Jones.