Tax Return Preparers Charged In Fraudulent Refund Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ronald A. Cimino, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Claudia Zuloaga, 43, and Sharon Elizabeth Angulo, 49, both of Miami, have been charged in a 32 count indictment with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and 20 and 11 counts, respectively, of assisting in the preparation of false federal income tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2).
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and a maximum of three years in prison on each of the Title 26 counts.
According to the indictment, beginning in approximately September 2008 and continuing through September 2012, the defendants jointly operated a tax preparation business from offices located at 18710 SW 107th Avenue, Miami, Florida. The indictment further alleges that Zuloaga and Angulo recruited clients by falsely representing that they could eliminate a substantial portion of their debts by obtaining sizable tax refunds for them. As alleged in the indictment, this would be accomplished through false and fraudulent tax returns which the defendants would prepare for each client in exchange for fees usually amounting to 30percent of the tax refunds fraudulently obtained and totaled in excess of $250,000 from those clients who were successful in receiving fraudulently obtained refunds.
As further alleged in the indictment, the tax returns prepared by the defendants falsely set forth that certain financial institutions had withheld sizable amounts of tax from falsely declared interest income earned from these same financial institutions. Through this fraudulent mechanism, each return gave the false appearance of entitling the client to a significant tax refund due to over-withholding of tax payments in connection with their claimed interest earnings. In addition, the indictment alleges that, in order to provide false substantiation for these fraudulent tax refund claims, the defendants caused fictitious IRS Forms 1099-OID to be created which set forth the false interest and tax withholding amounts fraudulently reported upon their clients’ tax returns.
The indictment also alleges that Zuloaga and Angulo promoted the fictitious “redemption theory” to their clients as the purported justification for their fraudulent tax refund claims. Through this promotion, clients were falsely informed that the submission of tax returns in this manner allowed their clients to legitimately access large amounts of money allegedly contained in certain non-existent “straw man” accounts which the defendants claimed were being maintained by the United States Treasury for each individual who possessed a Social Security number.
As part of the conspiracy, Zuloaga and Angulo are also alleged to have engaged in various acts designed to prevent the IRS from investigating their fraudulent activities and collecting the repayment of any tax refunds falsely and fraudulently obtained. These acts included the submission of numerous false documents on behalf of both their clients and themselves which were designed to obstruct the IRS from taking investigative and enforcement actions against their clients and themselves.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter B. Outerbridge and the department’s Tax Division Trial Attorney Alexander Effendi
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.