Bronx Tax Preparer Sentenced For Aggravated Identity Theft And Multi-Year Tax Fraud Scheme
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that REBECCA BAYUO, a Bronx tax preparer, was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for committing three different tax fraud schemes that involved using stolen identities to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. BAYUO was convicted of 12 counts of aiding and assisting the preparation of false tax returns, one count of theft of government funds, one count of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of subscribing to false tax returns, after a two-and-a-half-week jury trial. The charges arose from BAYUO’s preparation of false tax returns on behalf of her clients, her filing of false tax returns in the names of victims whose identities she had previously stolen, and her filing of false tax returns on her own behalf. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “Rebecca Bayou, a tax preparer in the Bronx, used stolen identities to file false tax returns – and collect the refunds – for dozens of victims in her money-making scheme. Tax fraud does not just cheat the government of the funds needed to provide the critical services we all use, it victimizes all honest taxpayers paying into the system. Today’s sentence is a perfect example of the consequence often awaiting tax cheats – they go to prison.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented at trial:
BAYUO owned and operated Breakthrough Insurance Brokerage, a tax preparation business, located in the Bronx, New York. From in or about 2010 through in or about 2014, BAYUO used stolen identifying information of victims to file fraudulent federal income tax returns, which generated tax refunds to which BAYUO was not entitled. Specifically, BAYUO repeatedly used stolen identities of dozens of victims to file false tax returns and unlawfully collect tax refunds in their names for herself from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”). As a result of BAYUO’s criminal conduct, many of the victims were unable to file tax returns as required by law, and were deprived of tax refunds to which they were entitled, and on which they were counting.
In addition, from in or about 2011 through in or about 2012, BAYUO prepared and submitted to the IRS fraudulent tax returns for her clients that resulted in increased tax refunds, to which her clients were not entitled. Among other things, BAYUO charged her clients an additional fee in exchange for providing them with the stolen identities of children as false “dependents” to claim on their tax returns. BAYUO recycled the same stolen identities as false “dependents” for numerous tax returns, over at least a four-year time period.
Finally, from in or about 2014 to in or about 2015, BAYUO filed false personal income tax returns in her own name, and included in those filings personal identifying information she had stolen from other individuals. Specifically, on her own tax returns BAYUO included false “dependents,” whose identities she had stolen, in order to obtain a larger tax refund to which she was not entitled.
* * *
Judge Koeltl sentenced BAYUO to a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft count and one year in prison on the remaining counts, to be served consecutively to the two-year term prison term. In addition, Judge Koeltl imposed forfeiture in the amount of $76,985 and restitution in the amount of $127,356.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Internal Revenue Service. The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Mollie Bracewell and Cecilia Vogel are in charge of the prosecution.