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Press Release

Polk County Woman Sentenced For Role In Construction-Related Tax Fraud Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington has sentenced Gabriela Inamagua to 12 months and one day in federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States and the Internal Revenue Service. The court also ordered Inamagua to pay restitution to two victim insurance companies and to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $8,953,629.24. Inamagua had pleaded guilty on October 4, 2023.

According to court documents, Inamagua owned and managed two “shell” construction companies which purported to supply construction services and labor for construction contractors and subcontractors. In order to comply with Florida law, Inamagua’s companies were required to secure and maintain adequate worker’s compensation insurance coverage. Her companies had agreements with contractors and subcontractors to use workers purported to be Inamagua’s employees at construction sites, and these workers were often undocumented aliens who were actually working for and under the daily supervision and direction of the contractors. Inamagua or others then regularly received “payroll checks” from contractors that they cashed at various financial institutions to pay Inamagua’s purported “employees” and other related expenses.

During the time period charged, Inamagua falsely and fraudulently represented in insurance applications that her companies had a very limited payroll and a very limited number of employees who worked on construction jobsites. Inamagau also caused the transmission of false and fraudulent wire communications to numerous contractors representing that her companies’ employees had full worker’s compensation coverage.

In reality, Inamagua’s companies received and cashed more than $34 million in checks from various construction contractors for these purported “employees.” These payroll figures far exceeded the very limited payroll figures that Inamagua had reported to her worker’s compensation insurance companies. As a result, these employees—who were, in reality, the employees of other entities—performed work on jobsites without adequate insurance coverage. In addition, the insurance companies that dealt with Inamagua’s companies lost premiums they would have charged had they been aware of the true number of workers their policies were thus being manipulated to cover. The insurance companies sustained losses on the insurance premiums that were not paid.

As a result of these misrepresentations, Inamagua’s companies also disclaimed responsibility for ensuring that jobsite workers were legally authorized to work in the United States and evaded laws that required the payment of state and federal payroll taxes on behalf of these workers. Inamagua’s companies did not collect or remit all required payroll taxes to the United States. In addition, the contractors who actually paid these workers’ wages and used their services were also able to avoid responsibility for those taxes. The amount of those unpaid payroll taxes totaled more than $8.9 million.

“The construction industry as a whole suffers when fraudsters exploit the system by creating fictitious shell companies to illegally pay workers off the books in order to scam insurance companies and avoid employment taxes,” said IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge Tara K. Reed. “Today's sentencing is a reminder that all businesses and employees are responsible for their fair share of taxes. IRS-CI and our law enforcement partners will continue building cases with these schemes and bringing those responsible to justice.”       

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the State of Florida Department of Financial Services, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations. It is part of a lengthy investigation by those agencies into the use of shell companies and “ghost” employees in the construction industry. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Updated January 2, 2024

Financial Fraud