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Press Release

Columbus Tax Preparers Plead Guilty To Fake Tax Return Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia
Scam involved 126 fraudulent tax returns, $216,684 in refunds.

COLUMBUS – A Columbus, Georgia tax preparer pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and identity theft charges, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Keven Walker, 33, of Columbus, Georgia was the owner of Walker Tax Financial Group, an income tax preparation business operating in Columbus. Mr. Walker pleaded guilty to one count of Wire Fraud and one count of Identity Theft in front of U.S. District Judge Clay Land on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Mr. Walker’s co-defendant, Tiffany Gist a/k/a Tiffany Walker, 46, of Columbus, Georgia, entered a guilty plea on July 23, 2019 to one count Wire Fraud and one count Identity Theft. Both defendants face up to twenty years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for Wire Fraud and a mandatory two year prison sentence for Identity Theft. They will be sentenced at a later date.

Mr. Walker and Ms. Gist e-filed tax returns with Walker Tax Financial Group. During the 2013 tax year, Internal Revenue Service agents discovered that the co-defendants filed 126 fraudulent returns, attempting to steal approximately $216,684 in refunds. According to Mr. Walker’s signed plea agreement, the co-defendants used one victim’s correct social security number to file a phony tax return, but the address and W-2 form were false. Victims signed affidavits stating they never did business with the defendants and did not authorize them to file tax returns.

“Dishonest tax return preparers will be held accountable for filing fictitious returns and stealing from taxpayers,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Protecting the integrity of our tax system is important, and all citizens must play by the same rules. I want to thank the IRS investigators for their good work in this case, and helping shut down these unscrupulous tax return preparers.”

“IRS Criminal Investigations Division is sworn to protect the tax system and bring to justice those who would steal from the Treasury,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “Would-be criminals should know: we are committed to combating identity theft related refund fraud. We understand that in these types of cases, the government is not the only victim. Identity theft can have a catastrophic emotional and financial impact on its victims. Our agents are determined to keep up the fight to eradicate identity theft and protect the honest taxpayers who would otherwise personally shoulder the immense burden of this crime.”

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Hyde prosecuted the case for the Government. Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

Updated August 19, 2019

Topic
Tax