A Georgian pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the United States by promoting a nationwide tax evasion scheme to more than 200 participants in at least 19 states. He also pleaded guilty to helping others prepare and file false income tax returns for those recruited under the scheme.
According to court documents, Iran V. Backstrom, also known as Shariyf Noble, of Milledgeville, was the main promoter of the scheme, which involved recruiting clients and preparing false tax returns on their behalf by convincing them that their mortgages and other debts entitled them to tax refunds. Between 2014 and 2016, Backstrom and his co-conspirators held seminars across the county to raise awareness of the program. As part of the program, Backstrom helped prepare and file tax returns for participants, who collectively requested more than $ 25 million in refunds from the IRS. These tax returns incorrectly claimed that banks and other financial institutions withheld large sums of income tax from participants, thereby entitling customers to a refund. In fact, the financial institutions did not pay any income or withhold taxes to these people. To make the refund claims appear legitimate, however, Backstrom and his co-conspirators filed tax documents with the IRS that matched the withholding information on the tax returns, making them appear as if they had been issued. by banks.
As part of his plea, Backstrom admitted to giving orders to others as part of the scheme. Several of his co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty for their role in the scheme. Backstrom also admitted that he and his co-conspirators concealed their roles in the scheme by stating, among other things, that the bogus tax returns were “self-prepared,” by submitting bogus IRS forms designed to appear as if they had been created by the participants. financial institutions and coaching participants on how to cover up the scheme from the IRS. Backstrom further admitted that he and his co-conspirators charged participants approximately $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 in fees for preparing each tax return. Although Backstrom personally received around $ 1 million for his role in the scheme, he did not file tax returns for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016 to report this income.
Backstrom’s sentencing will be set at a later date. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States and three years in prison on each of the seven counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of a false income statement. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and financial penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppmann for the Central District of Florida made the announcement.
The IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.
Trial attorneys Melissa S. Siskind, Kavitha Bondada and Isaiah Boyd III of the Department of Justice’s Taxation Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chauncey A. Bratt for the Central District of Florida are continuing the case.