Florida Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Filing Hundreds of False Tax Returns | USAO-OR
PORTLAND, Oregon — A man in Homestead, Florida was sentenced to federal prison today for committing a multi-year fraud scheme in which he filed 745 false tax returns in 19 different states.
Damian O. Barrett, 40, was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison and three years on probation.
“With the tax filing season quickly approaching, it is important that all Americans who choose to hire a tax preparation professional take the necessary precautions to ensure that they are legitimate and that ‘They have their best interests in mind,’ said Scott Erik Asphaug, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon. “The misuse of personally identifiable information to submit fraudulent tax returns on behalf of unknown clients is a serious crime and should be treated as such by our office. We applaud the IRS’s efforts to hold Mr. Barrett accountable for his crimes.
“Mr. Barrett used his expert knowledge as a tax preparer to secure bogus refunds at the expense of honest taxpayers all over the United States. Today’s sentence is a victory for those of us who have been victims of a sophisticated tax refund system, “said Bret Kressin, IRS Special Agent for Criminal Investigations (IRS: CI).” IRS: CI continues to prioritize investigations of people who undermine the integrity of our tax systems in order to hold them accountable for their fraud. ”
According to court documents, Barrett owned two tax preparation companies, Max Tax Experts, LLC and Winngate Tax Services, LLC. Barrett used Max Tax Experts to maintain and submit tax returns on behalf of legitimate clients. He used Winngate Tax Services to submit false and fraudulent tax returns. Between January 2015 and around December 2018, Barrett filed 745 false tax returns with 19 different tax authorities. The Oregon Department of Revenue alone received 348 tax returns claiming more than $ 322,000 in fraudulent refunds. The agency paid over $ 130,000 in fraudulent refunds to Barrett.
To advance his plan, Barrett used the names, Social Security numbers and employer identification numbers of various people, some of whom were his clients, to submit fraudulent returns. In addition, he opened bank accounts in the name of some of his victims to receive fraudulent refunds. In total, Barrett claimed almost $ 900,000 and received over $ 234,000 in fraudulent refunds.
In addition to his fraud scheme, in 2016 Barrett intentionally excluded over $ 21,000 in income from his personal income tax return, resulting in a tax loss of $ 5,506. In 2017, Barrett did not file a personal income tax return, creating an additional tax loss of $ 68,918.
On August 5, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland released a six-count indictment charging Barrett with mail fraud and money laundering. Later, on June 17, 2021, he was charged with overriding criminal information of mail fraud, filing a false income statement and aggravated identity theft. On July 19, 2021, Barrett pleaded guilty to all three counts in the surrogate information.
Upon sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon ordered Barrett to pay more than $ 234,000 in restitution to 11 state revenue departments, including tax authorities in Arizona, Connecticut, from Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Carolina, and over $ 74,000 to the IRS.
Acting US Attorney Asphaug and Special Agent in Charge Kressin made the announcement.
This case was investigated by IRS: CI with assistance from the US Postal Inspection Service. US Deputy Prosecutors Katherine A. Rykken and Seth D. Uram continued the case.