New York Tax Return Preparer Found Guilty of Tax Crimes in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District Of New York announced on March 5, 2019 in a press release that Afolabi Ajelero, the owner of Mo-Betta Ventures Inc., a tax preparation business located in Springfield Gardens, New York, was convicted by a federal jury for conspiring to commit aggravated identity theft and for two counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Mr. Ajelero, conspired with others to possess and use without lawful authority one or more means of identification of another person. He also filed false corporate income tax returns for the 2014 and 2015 tax years for his business.
Ajelero faces a maximum sentence of five years for the conspiracy conviction and a maximum sentence of three years in prison for each count of aiding or assisting in the preparation of false returns. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and monetary penalties.
On February 15, 2019, co-defendant Hakeem Bamgbala pleaded guilty to 18 counts of wire fraud, 22 counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of conspiring to commit aggravated identity theft, and one count of aiding and assisting the filing of a false tax return. On July 31, 2018, co-defendant Michael Campbell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated identity theft. A sentencing date has not been set for Bamgbala and Campbell.
IRS announces arrests and indictments after two-week campaign to fight refund fraud and identity theft.
The Federal District Courts should expect to see more of these cases as the IRS announced on March 20, 2019 the results of a national two-week enforcement and education campaign to combat refund crimes and identity theft that resulted in numerous legal actions against suspected criminals and businesses committing these crimes.
“Identity theft is a pervasive crime and stopping it remains a top priority of the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The IRS, with the help of our Security Summit partners, continues to make progress in this area, but we need to continue our significant efforts to protect taxpayers and assist those who have been a victim of identity theft. We are fighting this problem with enhanced systems, smarter technology and the efforts of our dedicated workforce, including Criminal Investigation. We will retain our relentless, vigorous pursuit of those who prey upon others in this arena”.
Working with the Department of Justice Tax Division and U.S. Attorneys around the nation, IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) made 11 arrests, indicted 15 individuals and saw five other individuals or businesses sentenced who perpetrated some type of refund fraud or identity theft scheme.
“Millions of taxpayers put their trust in tax professionals to prepare accurate and lawful returns.
Unfortunately, a few bad apples take advantage of that trust for their own greed and profit,” said Don Fort, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation. “CI’s special agents are highly skilled at unraveling fraudulent schemes. With our partners in other agencies and the private sector, we are dismantling these crooked enterprises and enforcing our tax laws”.
What Should You Do?
Whether you are a victim of identity theft or the perpetrator of identity theft, it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible to preserve your rights and/or mitigate your losses. The tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) and elsewhere in California know exactly what to say and how to handle issues with the IRS as well as State Tax Agencies. Our experience and expertise not only levels the playing field but also puts you in the driver’s seat as we take full control of resolving your tax problems. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you.