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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

College Park Tax Return Preparer Sentenced

ATLANTA - Ethel Elaine Daniels has been sentenced for filing false tax returns that claimed over $20 million in fraudulent refunds, including filing false tax returns in the names of over 1,000 stolen identity victims.

“This defendant victimized thousands of innocent citizens by misusing their identities to perpetrate her scheme,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “She also sought millions of dollars in fraudulent refunds from the U.S. Treasury over the course of three years.  Those who try to profit by filing false returns will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Daniels perpetuated a scheme that was driven by greed and a blatant disregard for the tremendous damage it inflicted on innocent victims” said Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge. “Today's sentencing of Daniels should serve as a stark reminder to others that such greed based criminal behavior comes with a cost, prison time.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court:  Daniels owned and operated two tax preparation businesses in the metro-Atlanta, Ga., area.  The first, Elaine Taxes, was located in College Park, Ga.  The second, Elaine Taxes #2, was located in Riverdale, Ga.  Daniels carried out two schemes from both tax preparation businesses.

From November 2010 through May 2013, Daniels and her co-conspirators obtained personal identifying information, including names and Social Security Numbers, of thousands of individuals without their knowledge or consent.  Daniels and her co-conspirators got the stolen identities by recruiting people to work as runners to bring in lists of the stolen identity information.  Then, unbeknownst to the stolen identity victims, Daniels and her co-conspirators electronically filed fraudulent tax returns in the victims' names.  The false tax returns contained fabricated information such as fake claimed-income amounts, business losses, and tax refunds due.  Daniels and her co-conspirators fabricated the information to insure that a tax refund would be issued.  Daniels and her co-conspirators then shared the fraudulently obtained tax refunds. 

Daniels and her co-conspirators also filed fraudulent tax refunds on behalf of individuals who actually visited Elaine Taxes and Elaine Taxes #2 to have their tax returns prepared.  Daniels was the leader, and trained new employees to prepare the tax returns for customers by adding false income information and business loss and expense information to the tax returns to insure that a tax refund would be due.    Daniels and her co-conspirators would keep a portion of the fraudulently obtained tax refund as a tax preparation fee.

In all, Daniels’ conspiracy obtained over $20 million in fraudulent income tax refunds through their two false tax return schemes run out of Elaine Taxes and Elaine Taxes #2.

Daniels used her illegally gotten funds to do things like take her extended family on a gambling trip to Biloxi, Miss., go on spending sprees for thousands of dollars of clothes and electronics, and buy cars for family and friends. 

Daniels, 46, of Riverdale, Ga., has been sentenced to 16 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12 million.  Daniels was convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft on May 28, 2014, after she pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Mary L. Webb prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.

Updated April 8, 2015