A few months ago, we brought our readers a story that detailed the criminal activity, prosecution, and eventual sentencing of Rashia Wilson, a tax cheat who dubbed herself the “Tax Fraud Queen”. She was behind a scam that involved her acquiring stolen identities, filing false refunds with the social security numbers of her victims, and receiving refunds associated with the returns that were fraudulently filed. She was originally sentenced to 21 years in prison but an appellate court judge overturned her sentence. Nevertheless, the trial court chose not to reduce her sentence and re-sentenced Wilson to the same 21-year prison term on remand.
For tax professionals, the sentence came as a surprise. On many occasions, the IRS and Department of Justice will threaten prison sentences that exceed 20 years, but those defendants who are sentenced for tax fraud see less than 10 years behind bars (which is still a long time). Just as the Wilson’s criminal activity came to an end, it appears that her reign as tax fraud queen has as well. The identify thief who touted that she would never be caught and even challenged prosecutors to indict her appears to have lost her claim to fame last week when James Lee Cobb III was sentenced to 27 years in a federal prison for illegal activities that included identify theft and tax fraud.
The new Tax Fraud King, if you will, was involved in a scheme that seems strikingly similar to Rashia Wilson’s. Cobb was able to steal over 7,000 different social security numbers from various medical facilities including a VA hospital. Once he had the social security numbers in hand, he filed false tax returns using the false identities and received nearly $3 million in refunds. In addition to finding the plethora of stolen records at his home, authorities that were executing a search warrant found two firearms, including an assault rifle.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Cobb pleaded guilty to a myriad of charges including identify theft, wire fraud, and illegal possession of a firearm. At the time of his arrest, Cobb was under supervised release stemming from a prior federal firearms conviction. His prior criminal history could have played a part in his lengthy sentence. That being said, a taxpayer doesn’t have to be found with loaded weapons or have prior felony convictions to be sentenced to a 20+ year prison term. Rashia Wilson is a prime example that a mix of arrogance and tax crime can completely ruin your life.
Short of making sure that you do not commit any tax crimes in the first place, the best way to ensure that you don’t spend a good portion of your life in prison for a tax offense conviction is to seek the help of an experienced tax attorney at the first sign of trouble. Many taxpayers believe that they will be able to talk their way out of an IRS examination or even an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. When a taxpayer sits across the table from an experienced IRS agent or investigator without their own legal representation, the IRS will likely be able to obtain all of the incriminating evidence that they need to move their investigation forward. This is because taxpayers are usually not keen on the methods and tactics used by the IRS. In the end, taxpayers will find that instead of talking themselves out of an audit, they have talked their way into a criminal investigation.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing are trained and have extensive experience in the practice of representing taxpayers in audits, investigations, and even civil and criminal litigation. The IRS and Department of Justice will make sure that their lawyers and experienced staff are doing everything that they can to be victorious, you should do the same. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today for a reduced-rate consultation.