Suburban Business Owner and Bookkeeper Charged with $1.2 Million Credit Card Fraud Scheme and $1.5 Million Tax Evasion
CHICAGO—A suburban businessman and his bookkeeper are facing federal fraud charges for allegedly cheating credit card companies of approximately $1.2 million and evading their personal federal income tax obligations of more than $1.5 million, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendants, Viet Nguyen and Adelina Miguel, are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday on one count each of wire fraud and tax evasion that were brought in a criminal information filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Because the defendants allegedly intentionally failed to keep records concerning which credit card charges were fraudulent, authorities are appealing for anyone who thinks they might be a victim to contact an Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation agent at 630-493-5224.
Nguyen, 41, of St. Charles, owned and operated various companies, including Expedite Media Group Inc., VB Management Holding Company Inc., and Pure Small Business Inc., which provided Internet marketing and Internet technology services such as website development and mass marketing through e-mails. Miguel, 37, of Joliet, was the office manager and bookkeeper for those companies, and she managed payroll, handled credit card charges, and issued tax forms to employees.
According to the indictment, between 2008 and March 2012, Nguyen and Miguel allegedly swindled customers, credit card companies, and banks by fraudulently charging customers’ credit and debit cards and bank accounts for services that were not provided. Nguyen directed Miguel and other staff to make fraudulent charges to meet daily sales quotas that he set and he and Miguel knew could not be met without fraudulently charging for services that were not provided, it adds.
As part of the scheme, Nguyen allegedly opened new companies so that he could fraudulently obtain new merchant accounts. There were so many customer complaints about fraudulent charges that Nguyen’s merchant accounts were frequently cancelled, and Nguyen incorporated new companies to get around that problem, the indictment alleges.
Because the companies’ federal income tax obligations flowed through Nguyen’s personal income tax returns, he was charged with tax evasion for allegedly filing false returns for 2009 that underreported his income. Miguel was charged with tax evasion or allegedly filing a false return for 2009 that underreported her income. In all, both defendants allegedly caused a tax loss of more than $1.57 million for 2008-2010.
Among other things, Nguyen and Miguel allegedly caused the companies to pay their personal expenses, including Nguyen’s payments for a Rolls Royce, Bentley, Hummer, Ferrari, Land Rover, two Audis, and other autos, as well as mortgage payments, cash withdrawals, credit card charges, skating lessons, dental bills, utilities, and property taxes. Nguyen directed Miguel to enter payments for personal expenses as business expenses in the companies’ ledgers to avoid reporting the payments as personal income on their tax returns, the indictment alleges.
The charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; James C. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office assisted in the investigation. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Stern.
Wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or an alternate fine of twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater. Tax evasion carries a maximum of five years and a $250,000 fine. In addition to criminal penalties, including the costs of prosecution, defendants convicted of tax offenses remain responsible for any taxes and interest due, as well as civil penalties of up to 75 percent of the tax owed. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.