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Miami Tax Law Blog

3 bankers convicted of fraud

Three men in Florida were sentenced to federal prison on Aug. 21. The charges related to fraudulent activity involving their former employer, Coastal Community Bank. The former CEO and attorney for the bank were each given a four-year sentence in prison. The former Coastal Community Bank CFO was sentenced to three years behind bars. The charges carried a potential maximum sentence of 30 years each as well as five additional years for filing a false claim against the United States.

The three defendants were also ordered to serve three years of supervised release after completing their respective prison sentences. In addition, they required to pay a combined restitution of more than $4.5 million to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Inspector General all contributed in investigating the scheme undertaken by the three banking executives. All three defendants were convicted of defrauding the federal government.

Florida man pleads guilty to hiding money overseas

Miami-Dade residents may be interested in the story of one Florida man who pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges related to foreign bank accounts. The guilty plea will be followed by the payment of just over half a million dollars in penalties in addition to the payment of back taxes.

U.S. tax law requires that those holding money in a foreign account report any amount over $10,000 as well as any income that comes from overseas. One Swiss bank, UBS, has reportedly helped the U.S. government investigate those who have held money overseas to evade taxes since making a deal with the Justice Department in 2009. They have since agreed to provide the U.S. government with 4,500 U.S. clients' financial data. Dozens of cases of tax evasion have been reported involving foreign accounts since then.

Florida man pleads guilty to government tax fraud

A 34-year-old Florida man pleaded guilty to theft-related charges on Aug. 8. According to the report, the man was accused of having U.S. Treasury checks sent to taxpayers who did not exist as a result of fraudulent tax returns.

The court records stated that the criminal activity occurred between November 2011 and April 2012. The first seven checks were reportedly deposited into the bank account of a co-defendant in November 2011. Another 104 checks were later given to the co-defendant. The co-defendant then wrote a number of checks that totaled over $227,000 and gave them to the defendant and other individuals who were involved in the fraud scam.

Individuals may be wrongly accused of tax fraud

Filing taxes can often be a complicated and exasperating exercise, inspiring many Florida taxpayers to seek outside help. People often turn to a CPA or other certified professional to file their taxes for them. Yet, to the taxpayers' misfortune and surprise, this can sometimes lead to missing documents, falsely completed documents and other problematic issues.

These situations may ultimately elicit legal trouble for the taxpayers if they signed off on the tax forms. It is possible that the IRS may accuse the taxpayers of falsifying tax materials, submitting fraudulent tax documents, making false claims on business returns or intentionally trying to evade their tax responsibilities. As a result, taxpayers may face criminal charges as well as assume debt for the allegedly unpaid taxes.

Florida mayor acquitted after FBI corruption sting

The mayor of Miami Lakes has been acquitted of federal charges related to allegedly taking bribes. The mayor had been indicted in the wake of an FBI sting operation that had targeted public officials in Florida believed by the federal agency to have been corrupt. A federal jury in Miami announced the not guilty verdict on Aug. 14 after two days of deliberation. The mayor had been accused of seven separate counts related to the alleged corruption.

Prosecutors claimed that the mayor had received $6,750 in bribes from undercover FBI agents in exchange for political favors. Specifically, the agents had asked for the mayor's assistance in securing federal grant money for Miami Lakes, but allegedly told him that they planned to use significant portions of the grant money for their own purposes. The agents also reportedly asked for assistance in acquiring federal grants for nearby Medley, where the mayor serves as city attorney.

What Florida residents should know about tax fraud

Each year, the IRS estimates that 17 percent of taxpayers do not comply with the tax code in some manner. However, only .0022 percent of taxpayers are convicted of fraud in a given year. This is because the IRS typically gives the benefit of the doubt to those who make mistakes on a tax return. What does the IRS consider fraud as opposed to a simple error on a tax return?

Tax fraud ranges from failure to pay taxes to failure to file an income tax return. Fraud also occurs when a taxpayer willfully fails to report some or all of his or her income. If a false tax return is submitted or the return contains a fraudulent social security number, the IRS may assume that someone is attempting to commit fraud.

Florida man pleads guilty to charges related to tax fraud

As the result of a plea deal, a 34-year-old Jacksonville man pleaded guilty in early August to charges of stealing government property. The charges were related to refund checks issued by the IRS as the result of filing false and fraudulent income tax returns. According to reports, the U.S. Treasury checks were mailed to bogus addresses in New York in 2011 and 2012.

The first seven checks were deposited into a business account owned by a co-defendant. The remaining 104 checks were later deposited into the co-defendant's business account from which the co-defendant wrote checks to the defendant and other related parties. According to the indictment, the checks totaled more than $227,000. The co-defendant pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy and is facing a prison term up to five years.

How does the government define and punish computer fraud?

Readers in Florida may be interested to learn about federal statutes regarding a variety of computer-based activities that are considered illegal under federal law. According to sections of the U.S. Code, a number of unauthorized computer activities that involve knowingly accessing protected information or causing damage and loss is illegal and punishable upon conviction.

Some of the sections of the statutes concern the access of information without authorization. For example, a person who exceeds his or her authorization and gains information that might injure the U.S. or provide an advantage to another country might be prosecuted at the federal level.

A person who is convicted of such a violation might be subjected to a fine and a period of incarceration. The maximum prison sentence varies between 10 and 20 years depending on the defendant's criminal history. The law also states that unauthorized access to information from any department of the U.S. using a computer is also illegal.

2 brothers plead guilty to $6 million food stamp scam

On July 24, two brothers in South Florida were sentenced to spend more than five years in prison for using government-issued food stamps fraudulently. The 42-year-old and 52-year-old brothers were also ordered to pay $4 million in restitution after pleading guilty to conspiracy, bankruptcy fraud and other charges.

Court documents allege that the two brothers operated a storefront where they regularly allowed food stamp recipients to exchange their food benefits for cash. The transactions reportedly involved the brothers taking substantial fees from the food stamp debit cards. Many of the charges that they made were admittedly fraudulent.

Defining tax fraud

The IRS reported that a small amount of tax offenses in Florida result in convictions every year. However, an estimated 17 percent of taxpayers do not follow tax laws, and about three-fourths of these are individuals who commit tax fraud. Even so, the IRS has strict definitions of tax fraud, defining the act as intentional and not just an oversight.

Tax fraud includes the following: intentional failure to pay taxes, failure to file taxes, failing to report all earnings, false reporting of taxes and false claims on taxes. However, the IRS has decided that the tax code is difficult to understand, so they usually believe the best about a taxpayer unless they find that a person intentionally evaded their agency. They attribute most mistakes to negligence and label them as unintentional although the taxpayer could still be penalized. The IRS has a separate unit called the IRS Criminal Investigation to research all types of tax offenses with the technology to research computer records. In addition, an offender might need to pay civil consequences as well.

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