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Barbados National Claimed $120M in False Tax Refunds

November 08, 2012 03:14pm  
Barbados National Claimed $120M in False Tax Refunds


On November 7, 2012, the Department of Justice reported that Andrew J Watts was sentenced to 114 months in prison by US District Judge Joan Gottschall in Chicago.  He was also ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution for stealing identities and engaging in a federal income tax refund fraud scheme.  Watts is a Barbados national.  


Court documents show that Watts filed the fraudulent federal income tax returns from 2007 to 2011.  He used the names of deceased taxpayers and forged their signatures to obtain the fraudulent refunds, and he even claimed himself as the deceased person’s representative in some cases.  


In total, Watts filed more than 470 fraudulent federal income tax returns.  He is believed to have claimed about $120 million, and the Internal Revenue Service issued over $10 million in refunds.  In order to conceal the fraud, Watts instructed the IRS to send the refund checks to an electronic deposit or an address he controlled.  


Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, stated: “While all taxpayers are victims when criminals file false tax returns using stolen identities, those who falsely use the names of deceased individuals add to the grief and burdens of their families.”


Watts pleaded guilty on July 10, 2012, and he pleaded to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of mail fraud.


IRS-Criminal Investigation Chief Richard Weber noted: “IRS-Criminal Investigation has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority and we will vigorously pursue those who undermine the integrity of the U.S. tax system.  Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”


Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. King, Jr. with the Northern District of Illinois and Trial Attorney Michelle Petersen with the Department of Justice’s Tax Division were in charge of prosecution.


Source: U.S. Department of Justice
 

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