Help Yourself

36657376 - tax refund paper text on assorted cash

There are several places where it’s ok to help yourself. For example, at an “All You Can Eat Buffet,” it’s ok to fill your plate as many times as you’d like as long as you pay for it. While staying at a hotel, travelers can help themselves to the travel size shampoo, conditioner and lotion bottles left on the bathroom sink each day. (Afterall, it’s paid for.) Today’s tax fraud news article looks at a Sioux Falls, South Dakota tax business owner who thought it was ok to help himself to some of his clients’ tax refund dollars. (In this case, honest taxpayers got to pay for it.)

The business owner from Sioux Falls committed tax refund fraud by illegally preparing and electronically filing federal income tax returns for his clients. (They were mostly low-income working first-generation immigrants who couldn’t speak English very well.) He generated substantial returns for his clients by claiming large, false deductions on hundreds of returns. For instance, he filed married couples separately and claimed fake charitable donation amounts. (This helped to lower the federal tax liability and increase tax refund amounts.) The fraudulent tax preparer used a third-party to receive and disburse the tax refund payments. (The tax refund payments were skimmed off the top and sent directly into the tax preparer’s pocket, instead of his clients’ bank accounts.)

The 37-year-old man from Sioux Falls was found guilty of 25 counts of making false claims and five counts of wire fraud. He was convicted by a federal jury of tax refund fraud for skimming an estimated $860,000 over about three years from more than 1,400 clients. (He explained he committed the crime to help people from his home country of Togo, in Africa. But, unfortunately, investigators were unable to trace where the money went.)

The perpetrator had about 10 family members speak on his behalf in the courtroom, all requesting leniency. Many said that he was a great guy that came from a good family. (Great guys from good families don’t steal money from low-income individuals.)

Although the Sioux Falls man apologized for his actions, he was sentenced to nine years in federal prison. The judge declared this case the “largest” and “most sophisticated” tax fraud case she had seen during her 19-year career, then told the defendant he must pay $2.5 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. (I suppose he was also told he could help himself to an orange jump suit and a pair of handcuffs too.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Former Sioux Falls business owner sentenced for tax fraud that affected 1,400 victims,” published by Sioux Falls Argus Leader on January 4, 2019.

A former Sioux Falls business owner convicted by a federal jury of inflating federal tax returns of more than 1,400 victims has been sentenced to 9 years in prison.

Jacques Eviglo, 37, was sentenced Friday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, who said Eviglo’s case was the “largest” and “most sophisticated” tax fraud case she’s seen in her 19-year career. Eviglo must also pay over $2.5 million in restitution to the IRS.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.