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Press Release

Traveling minister convicted on all counts for his role in a $4.8 million tax refund scam

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

A jury convicted a traveling minister from Arkansas on all 14 counts for his role in a $4.8 million tax refund scam, said Carole S. Rendon, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

Allen D. Miles, 58, of Little Rock, Arkansas, is scheduled to be sentenced June 13. He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

Miles, acting with Zinara Highsmith, engaged in a false tax refund scheme in which approximately 2,750 false income tax returns were filed, claiming false income tax refunds of approximately $4.8 million.

Miles obtained personal identification information from congregants and others by telling them that he could help them obtain money from an alleged government stimulus fund program. Miles did not tell congregants that income tax returns were going to be filed on their behalf. After he obtained the information, Miles forwarded it to Highsmith, and then Highsmith and others created the false income tax returns that generated refunds based on certain credits for which the taxpayers did not qualify, like the American Opportunity Credit, Making Work Pay Credit, and Earned Income Credit, according to trial testimony and court documents.

For each refund, Miles collected a $125 commission and Highsmith received $275; the taxpayers received the balance. Miles received approximately $300,000 for his efforts in the refund scam, which operated between March and July 2011, according to trial testiony and court records.

"This defendant traveled the country defrauding people and the goverment," Rendon said. "He took advantage of their religious faith and their faith in the government to enrich himself."

"Misusing his position of trust as a minister, Mr. Miles perpetuated an elaborate scheme driven by insatiable greed and a blatant disregard for the tremendous damage inflicted on innocent victims. The jurors have spoken and Mr. Miles is being held accountable for his criminal actions," Enstrom said.  "Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude and with this degree of trickery, dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  IRS Criminal Investigation, along with the United States Attorney's Office, remain vigilant in identifying, investigating and prosecuting those individuals who seek to willfully defraud the United States Treasury and blatantly disregard the victims of their schemes."

Highsmith has pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael L. Collyer and Carmen Henderson, following an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.

Updated April 5, 2016