Owner Of Atlanta Income Tax Preparation Firm Sentenced For Nearly $7 Million Refund Fraud
ATLANTA - Anita R. Ford, a/k/a Anita R. Dixon, has been sentenced to four years and three months in prison for preparing and filing approximately $7 million worth of fraudulent personal income tax returns.
“This defendant filed thousands of fraudulent tax returns with the IRS over five years, seeking millions of dollars in fraudulent refunds from the U.S. Treasury,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “On one of those occasions, the taxpayer was not her client, but was instead an undercover IRS agent. This conviction should make abusive return preparers think twice before attempting to rob the U.S. Treasury.”
“IRS special agents work year round to investigate and root out dishonest return preparers,” stated IRS Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge, Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot. “The message this case sends is that participation in refund fraud schemes does not pay and those who do will be prosecuted. Ms. Ford violated the confidence of her clients, stole from the American taxpayer and today she is being held responsible for her actions.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Between 2004 and 2012, Ford owned and operated Georgia Peach Financial & Fast Tax Service (“Georgia Peach”), an Atlanta, Ga., personal income tax preparation business. During that time Ford prepared and electronically filed (“e-filed”) thousands of Form 1040 individual income tax returns with the IRS that intentionally misstated her clients’ income in order to generate fraudulent refunds. In particular, Ford made up fake side businesses with fake income and fake expenses, and then attached false Schedule C’s (“Profit or Loss from Business”) to the clients’ tax returns showing the made up income and expenses. This had the effect of off-setting her clients’ income tax liability from their real salaries, as reflected in Forms W2 (“Wage & Tax Statement”) issued by their real employers, generating false credits and refunds.
In March 2011, a Special Agent of IRS-CI visited Georgia Peach in an undercover capacity, posing as a taxpayer seeking to have a return prepared. Ford began preparing a tax return in the agent’s cover identity, based on a Form W2 in the cover identity, and informed the agent that they would owe approximately $200. In truth, the agent would have been due a refund of almost $400. Ford then created a fictitious Schedule C for a fake beauty salon business, with $30,000 in fake business expenses, generating a fraudulent refund of over $4,000, and e-filed the completed tax return with the IRS. To prepare and e-file the return, Ford charged a fee of $510. Ford did not provide a copy of the tax return to the undercover agent or review it with the undercover agent before e-filing it.
The returns identified in the scheme sought fraudulent refunds ranging from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, including at least one fraudulent refund of more than $30,000. The returns sought a total of $6,934,337.92 in fraudulent refunds for Ford’s clients, portions of which Ford retained as tax preparation fees.
Ford, 50, of Jonesboro, Ga., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., to four years, three months in federal prison to be followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution to the United States Treasury in the amount of $5,732,021.50. Ford was convicted of these charges on December 3, 2013, after she pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney David M. Chaiken prosecuted the case.
The IRS would like to remind people that while most preparers provide excellent service to their clients, the IRS urges taxpayers to be very careful when choosing a tax preparer. Taxpayers should be as careful as they would be in choosing a doctor or a lawyer. It is important to know that even if someone else prepares a tax return, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return.
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/.