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Four Tax Preparers from Tampa Bay Area Sentenced for Tax Fraud Scheme

By Ciara Perez, News Reporter | iSkyCreations - News & Media (ISC News)Published Dec 24th, 2023

Tampa Bay, FL - In a significant crackdown on tax fraud, four individuals from the Tampa Bay area have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud the United States. U.S. District Judge Virginia Covington handed down the sentences in Tampa, marking a decisive action against fraudulent tax preparation practices.

Ashley Flournoy of Riverview received a two-year sentence for her involvement in the scheme, which included conspiracy to commit tax fraud and aiding in the preparation of false tax return documents. Her co-defendants, Jamica Nelms, Capriesha Cummings, and Camille Harper, all from St. Petersburg, received sentences of three years, two and a half years, and one year, respectively.

The fraudulent activity, as detailed in court documents, spanned from January 2017 to April 2019. The defendants operated as tax return preparers at a St. Petersburg business, where they conspired to prepare false income tax returns. Their method involved creating fictitious businesses on Schedule C forms, enabling clients to claim inflated Earned Income Credits and, consequently, larger tax refunds than they were entitled to. Additionally, they falsely reported clients were eligible for fuel tax credits and education expenses to further increase the refund amounts.

This elaborate scheme resulted in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issuing refunds that far exceeded the legitimate entitlements of the clients. The court has ordered the defendants to collectively pay $1,006,881 in restitution to the IRS. Furthermore, they have been prohibited from ever preparing tax returns for third parties again.

“As we approach the tax filing season, taxpayers are reminded to be vigilant when entrusting someone with preparing their tax returns. Dishonest return preparers not only defraud the IRS, but are also stealing from the American taxpayer,” said Tara K. Reed IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge. “Today's sentencing is a warning to those who might consider preparing false tax returns that there is a heavy price to pay for committing fraud. IRS-CI Special Agents are withholding no effort in cracking down on fraudulent return preparers and we will continue protecting taxpayer money.”

The case was thoroughly investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Pizzo and Jay Trezevant led the prosecution, showcasing the government's commitment to combating tax fraud and protecting the integrity of the tax system.



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