Davie Man Pleads Guilty in Large-Dollar Fraudulent Refund Scam Involving $22 Million in Claims
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Freddie Howard, 56, of Davie, pled guilty to his role in a large-dollar tax refund fraud scam. Sentencing for Howard is scheduled for August 29, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.
Howard pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum term of 22 years in prison.
According to the plea documents, Howard operated a tax preparation business called QTS1, Inc. (Quality Tax Service) in Broward County. Howard prepared false and fraudulent tax returns using the identity information of willing participants, as well as, stolen identity information. Howard used false and fictitious income and withholding tax information on the returns submitted to the IRS to justify fraudulent large-dollar refund requests. The requested refund amounts generally ranged from $60,000 to $1,400,000, and Howard typically requested payment of these refunds via U.S. Treasury tax refund check. To conceal his identity, Howard submitted the tax returns to the IRS by mail and did not include preparer information. Howard also blocked out the tax preparer software information, and used other people to contact the IRS to inquire about the status of the fraudulent returns.
According to the plea documents, Freddie Howard submitted over $22 million in false and fraudulent large-dollar refund claims to the IRS that resulted in a payout of approximately $4.5 million on these large-dollar refund requests. As part of the scam, Howard caused a false and fraudulent tax return in the name of “J.E.” to be submitted to the IRS that resulted in a U.S. Treasury tax refund check sent to “J.E.” in Coral Springs for $398,502.52.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the FBI and IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.