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
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.