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Press Release

North Carolina Woman Pleads Guilty to Running Tax Refund Scam in Syracuse

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

UTICA, NEW YORK – Lathisa Smokes, age 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina, pled guilty today to filing false tax returns, and assisting others in preparing false tax returns, which caused the IRS to issue fraudulent refunds exceeding $100,000.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, and Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), New York Field Office.

In pleading guilty, Smokes admitted that from January 2013 to March 2014, she falsely represented herself as a licensed tax preparer, and told taxpayers in Syracuse that she could obtain refunds for them by filing their individual federal tax returns.  Smokes convinced the taxpayers to supply her with their dates of birth, social security numbers, addresses, and other information for themselves and their minor dependents.  Smokes then prepared and filed 21 returns that she knew contained false information relating to the taxpayers’ income, withholding, and eligibility for certain tax credits.  The false returns caused the IRS to transfer $102,918 in fraudulent refunds to the taxpayers and Smokes.  The IRS has recovered the majority of the money.

Smokes will be sentenced on February 13, 2020, by United States District Judge David N. Hurd in Utica.

Smokes faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by IRS-CI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emmet J. O’Hanlon.

Updated October 19, 2019

Financial Fraud