Articles Posted in Tax Fraud

Published on:


A Barcelona court has found Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, guilty of three counts of tax fraud and has sentenced them to 21 months in prison.

It is unlikely that either will have to serve any jail time.

In a statement, the court also said that the sentence can be appealed through the Spanish supreme court. Under Spanish law, a tax prison sentence under two years can be served under probation, meaning Messi and his father are very unlikely to go to jail.

The court has also ordered Messi to pay a fine of about €2 million ($2.2 million), while his father was dealt a €1.5m fine for the tax evasion.

The court had been hearing a case brought by prosecutors who maintain that Messi and his father used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay as well as shell companies in the U.K. and Switzerland to avoid paying taxes totalling €4.1m on earnings from image rights from 2007 to 2009.

Barcelona on Wednesday issued a statement in support of their star forward, saying that they feel Messi is not criminally responsible for the tax fraud.

“FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today,” the statement read. “The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case. FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests.”

Lionel Messi admitted in court last month that he signed many documents without reading their contents and that he visited a notary’s office to go through with setting up a company to handle his finances without understanding what was going on.

When news of the investigation first broke in the summer of 2013, the Messi’s paid over €5m in arrears and extra charges. They are also believed to have paid €10m in taxes due on the image-rights income for 2010 and 2011.

In February, Messi’s teammate Javier Mascherano was given a one-year prison sentence for not properly paying his taxes. The sentence was deferred for two years after his legal team rejected the option to pay a new €280,000 ($312,000) fine, which it considered excessive.

According to Forbes magazine, Messi earns a total of $81.4 million a year, making him No. 2 in their list of world’s highest-paid athletes for 2016.

The truth is that no one likes to pay taxes. However, all of us and the companies we work for are obligated to do so. We all know that even just for our personal tax returns, tax laws can be quite complex. Because of how complicated tax laws can be, these cases can be some of the most complicated criminal cases any lawyer will ever handle.

There are many different types of tax fraud cases. Sometimes, prosecutors will try to claim that a person attempted  to “evade” taxes. Other cases involve allegations that someone failed to file a tax return. There are also cases where the government alleges that a person did not identify the source of income, or that they allegedly structured cash deposits to avoid the filing of currency transaction reports.

Continue reading

Published on:


A federal jury found a 40-year-old Windermere man guilty of 11 counts of wire fraud and 4 counts of filing a false tax-related document.

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count and up to 3 years’ imprisonment for each false document charge.

The man’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 19, 2015. He was indicted on April 9, 2015.

According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2006 through 2012, the accused was employed as the personal assistant to an NBA basketball player, who has since retired from professional basketball. During calendar years 2008 through 2011, the man apparently stole approximately $2,188,170 from the ball player by making unauthorized online banking money transfers from one of his bank accounts into three different bank accounts that the man controlled. The man spent these funds on his own personal expenses, including mortgage payments for his home in Windermere, and the purchase of a Ferrari and a Range Rover.

The man also filed false joint income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service for each of these years. In these tax returns, he and his wife never reported more than $60,000 in gross income, when in fact their joint income was significantly greater due to the money the man stole from the former basketball player.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew C. Searle.

Wire fraud can range in criminal acts, including fraudulent schemes for phishing emails, sending electronic checks or money to banks, or communications over the Internet or telephone.

The essential elements of wire fraud include the following:

  • The defendant intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money
  • The defendant did so with the intent to defraud
  • It was foreseeable that interstate wire communication would be used
  • That interstate wire communication was used

The term “interstate wire communications” is broad, and refers to any type of transmission by wire, radio, or television communication, including, but not limited to, writings, signs, pictures, faxes, or sounds used in interstate or foreign commerce.

Continue reading

Published on:


A former correctional officer has pleaded guilty to committing tax fraud and using inmates’ identities.

According to investigators, the 26-year-old was working at the Zephyrhills Correctional Facility when he used Florida Department of Corrections databases to access the personal identifying information of inmates between January 2011 and May 2014.

The man allegedly used the information to file 182 fraudulent tax returns. Investigators claim the total amount of fraudulent funds requested in those returns is estimated to be more than $500,000.

Published on:


A West Palm Beach woman faces federal charges of identity theft and tax fraud after she allegedly stole personal information from more than 700 people.

The 39-year-old woman is accused of stealing personal information and storing  it in a notebook that included names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, according to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Investigators allege the woman may have used some of the names to get prescription drugs, according to federal court records.

The accused and two others were arrested in October 2012 for credit card fraud greater than $100 in Martin County. Police were notified after a shoplifting incident was reported at the Treasure Coast Mall.

Once detained, officers claim they uncovered notebooks filled with 726 names and Social Security numbers, most of which belonged to people in Boynton Beach and Delray Beach,  20 debit cards and an iPad, according to federal records.

identity theftAccording to IRS investigators, most of the names and account numbers the woman had in her possession were used to file fraudulent tax returns that sought tax refund payments to credit and debit cards.

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office referred the woman’s case to the IRS. Federal records indicate that the woman told federal investigators a man she knew had broken into a car on the day of her arrest, and stole credit cards and a gun.

The woman and the two men she was with are all convicted felons. According to Palm Beach County records, the woman pleaded guilty to felony battery in 2000 and 2004. She was also convicted of fraudulent use of a credit card in Palm Beach County in 2001.

She allegedly admitted to police that she and one of the men had broken into multiple cars and stolen credit cards. Police claim she told them she stole identification information to help others. She denied filing false tax returns.

However, investigators claim the woman filed false 2012 tax returns in early 2013 after her October 2012 arrest. Federal documents allege that the woman’s home contained additional names, information and letters from the IRS not addressed to her. Records indicate that the woman also had tax software on her computer with 2012 tax return information.

Investigators allege they found multiple returns that had been filed from the woman’s IP address.

The woman faces charges of unlawful possession of unauthorized access devices and five counts of aggravated identity theft. She faces 10 years in prison if convicted and is currently being held without bail.

If you have been charged with identity theft or any other related crimes, you must act fast and mount a hard-hitting, proactive defense. Make no mistake that the prosecution will be pushing hard for a conviction, and failing to address these charges early on could be the difference between a conviction and a successful outcome.

Due to the advances in technology and the Internet, identity theft has become a major criminal offense within the past few years. Often times these offenses cross state lines or are charged alongside with other serious criminal offenses, thus making them federal crimes. A Martin County Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton knows the unique differences between state and federal criminal charges and can provide you with the strongest legal representation so that you can achieve an outcome that you can live with.

Continue reading

Published on:


A 44-year-old Largo woman was sentenced to four years in federal prison on Thursday for defrauding student financial aid and filing false claims with the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, the Court also ordered her to pay restitution to the IRS, in the amount of $110,971, and to the Federal Stafford Loan Program, in the amount of $22,350.

The woman pleaded guilty to the charges against her on October 10, 2013.
Court documents indicate that the woman had previously obtained several student loans with outstanding balances, then had the balances dismissed due to a disability. She apparently managed to procure additional student loans by submitting forged physician forms stating that her condition had improved, and agreeing to repay her past loan balances.

The woman then applied for further student loans to attend Walden University, which court documents show she did not attend. She received more than $27,000 in loans, from which a total of $22,350 was disbursed to her.

taxes betch.jpgIn connection with the IRS, the woman apparently established four fictitious Florida corporations and then filed corporate tax returns claiming more than $500,000 in refundable tax credits. She opened bank accounts in the names of the corporations, where the refunds were directly deposited.

According to reports, the woman used the refunded tax credits for personal expenses.
She admitted that these corporations were created just to file false corporate tax returns and were not legit businesses.

The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Inspector General all investigated this case.

The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, has seemingly unlimited resources at its disposal when it comes to investigating tax crimes. These investigations often start out as civil matters, but can quickly intensify to criminal matters based upon the evidence they obtain. Tax fraud can legally be defined as many different things, including reporting false income, not disclosing certain assets, reporting more deductions than you are actually owed and even changing personal expenses to be represented as business expenses.

Continue reading

Published on:


Two ex-NFL football players and a former high school football star were arrested in an undercover operation set up by FBI agents Monday for allegedly cashing dozens of fraudulently obtained tax-refund checks and seeking a loan, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

FBI agents apparently set up a check-cashing store “front” in Miami as a response to the escalating number of reported identity-theft crimes in South Florida and nationwide. The FBI claims the bust was designed to prevent an alleged identify-theft and tax-refund scheme.

The men arrested include: William Joseph who was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants in 2003 and last played with the Oakland Raiders in 2010, Michael Bennet who also was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2001 and finished his career with the Raiders in 2011 and Louis Gachelin, a Miami Jackson High and Syracuse University defensive lineman who signed as a free agent with the New England Patriots in 2004, but failed to make the final roster.

The former football players, Joseph, 32, of Miramar, Gachelin, 31, of Miramar, and Bennett, 33, of Tampa were granted bonds Tuesday. Arraignments are apparently scheduled for May 15.

The sting operation yielded five other arrests Monday as well.

Joseph, Gachelin and those five defendants were charged with cashing a total of about $500,000
in fraudulently obtained tax-refund checks, forging signatures on the checks and unlawfully using identification documents such as a driver’s license.

As part of the undercover sting, the FBI apparently charged 35 percent to 45 percent in fees to cash their checks with the bureau’s own funds.

Bennet allegedly tried to obtain a $200,000 loan on April 18 from the check-cashing store front using a UBS financial statement falsely showing that he had $9 million in collateral for the loan. He was charged with wire fraud.

The FBI claims fraudulently obtained tax refunds are costing the government $5 billion or more.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, people filing false tax returns have abused a hole in the IRS electronic filing system.

It appears that the IRS does not actually match tax returns to the W-2 income forms that employers file until several months after the filing season ends on April 15. Employers file returns at the end of February or early March, but the agency apparently does not match them up with employees’ incomes reported on 1040 forms until sometime in June.

According to the GAO, the number of identity theft-related fraud incidents on tax returns reached 248,000 in 2010, which is around five times more than in 2008.

Federal investigations into white collar or financial crimes can arise out of nowhere. In fact, these investigations can intensify quite rapidly, sometimes even before you are ever approached by investigators. It is critical to consult with a criminal defense lawyer if you have any reason to believe that you are under investigation for a financial crime. Often there are signs that can clue you into whether or not an investigation is in progress, including behavior changes in those around you, unusual questions or suspicious activities.

White collar crimes can include:

• Tax Crimes

Identity Theft

• Embezzlement
Antitrust Crimes

• Hacking
• Forgery
Financial crimes require a strong defense, and in order to be effective you must retain a trial attorney prepared to practice in state and federal court. The Florida White Collar Crime Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand how a strong defense against financial crimes is built. We know how to identify loophole’s in the prosecutor’s case and leverage them to work in your favor.

It is important to realize that when you are charged with a crime, your future depends on early representation. Unfortunately, early mistakes cannot be undone and the prosecution will use any information they can against you.

Continue reading

Published on:


A 39-year-old Royal Palm Beach, Florida man has been charged with one count of filing a false personal income tax return for 2008 for himself and seven counts of filing false tax returns for his clients.

He is also charged with fraudulently claiming the First-Time Home Buyer Credit and other tax credits and deductions.

The man apparently ran a tax return preparation business in Palm Beach County.

Prosecutors claim the tax loss to the government was between $400,000 and $1 million.

The man allegedly improperly claimed earned income tax credits, home mortgage interests, business credits, gifts to charities and medical and dental expenses for his clients.

If this man is convicted of tax evasion, he faces potential penalties of up to three years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each charge. While searching for ways to dodge tax liability is legal in the U.S., intentionally not paying the taxes you owe can result in felony tax fraud charges. Charges of criminal tax evasion can include:

• Filing a False Tax Return
• Failure to File Taxes
• Failure to Pay Taxes
• Assisting in Preparing a False Tax Return
Additional charges that can arise in tax fraud cases may include mail fraud, making false statements and making false claims. Criminal tax evasion charges may also result from failing to report all income or claiming false deductions. In tax evasion cases, the government must prove knowledge and willfulness to deceive. The penalties are unique to the charges you face and are contingent upon the amount of taxes you owe the federal government.

If you are under investigation for filing false tax returns, it is best to contact a Florida Tax Crimes Attorney immediately. At Whittel & Melton, we can best protect your rights by getting involved as early on the case as possible. Depending on the circumstances exclusive to your case, we may be able to negotiate with the IRS to avoid criminal penalties.

Continue reading

Contact Information