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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 12, 2015

South Euclid Woman Charged for Falsely Claiming $1 Million in Tax Returns

A one-count criminal information was filed against Victoria Mason, 31, of South Euclid, charging her with conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to filing fraudulent income tax refund claims, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Kathy Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Cincinnati Field Office.

Mason, acting together with separately charged defendants Veronica Mason, Tenisha Cleveland, and other individuals not yet charged, engaged in a false tax refund scheme in which they prepared at least 64 false income tax returns for the years 2008 through 2011, for approximately 27 persons, which claimed income tax refunds that were greater than the actual refunds, if any, to which the taxpayers were entitled, according to the information. 

On each return, Mason and her cohorts generated false refund claims, at least in part, by reporting a falsely inflated or fictitious wage income and a resulting false earned income credit, according to the information.

On some returns, Cleveland and her confederates also claimed false dependents and/or reported false or inflated amounts of tax withholding, sometimes supported by fictitious Wage and Tax Statements, Form W-2.  Mason and Veronica Mason, who has been charged in a separate criminal information, filed the returns electronically on behalf of taxpayers, through private and public internet connections.  Generally, the co-conspirators did not provide a copy of the return to the taxpayer, and the taxpayer did not know the amount of the refund claimed, according to the information.

The electronic filings included requests that the IRS direct-deposit refunds into bank accounts owned or controlled by Cleveland, Veronica Mason and their co-conspirators, or provide the refunds on pre-paid debit cards purchased by the co-conspirators.  After receiving the refunds, Mason, Cleveland, Veronica Mason and their co-conspirators paid only a portion of the refund, if any, to the taxpayer, according to the information. 

According to the information, Mason and her co-conspirators inflated the refund claims on the 64 charged returns by a total of approximately $114,930.  Additionally, Mason and her co-conspirators falsely filed an additional 823 fictitious claims for tax refunds with the IRS, which inflated the total refund claims by the conspirators by an additional $1,079,750.  The IRS issued refunds totaling approximately $815,577.27 to Mason and her co-conspirators.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of the factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the criminal conduct.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Om Kakani, following an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.

An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Updated March 17, 2015