There was a story I saw in the Modesto Bee recently about a Manteca woman who pleaded guilty to defrauding the IRS out of about $313,000. It is not really your typical refund fraud case in the sense that the more popular strategy involves preparing a series of false refund returns claiming smaller amounts. All the returns together may add up to a small fortune, but no single refund claim appears right away to be anything out of the ordinary. The Manteca woman wasn’t patient enough for the “slow drip” method apparently; she went all in. And she lost big time.
Esther Robertson, 57, faces up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. It is not mentioned in the Modesto Bee story, but typically the fine is in addition to the restitution aspect of the sentencing, which involves the taxpayer paying back what was stolen. Robertson will have a lot of time to stress about the possible outcome since her sentencing is not expected until September 2015.
Court papers also indicate that, in February 2009, after the IRS was onto her, they issued a bank levy to try to recoup at least some of what was taken. Then Robertson did something that I’m not sure I quite understand. Presumably in an act of retaliation, she filed a lien against the property of the IRS Commissioner! This certainly shows her contempt for the IRS, or the federal government, or both.
There are a number of questionable websites and online sources that claim to cite legal authority for filing a criminal suit against the IRS for taking one’s property. I won’t link to any of these sites because I don’t really have a beef with them but, trust me, there are hundreds of them. These are the same sites that are managed by tax protestors who believe taxation is illegal and the IRS has no legal authority to collect taxes. My guess is that Robertson found something online about filing a lien against the Commissioner of the IRS and she thought she would give it a try. She probably didn’t have much to loose at that point either, knowing that the IRS had discovered her foul play and it was only a matter of time before she would be getting a visit from Criminal Investigations. For Robertson’s sake, I hope this doesn’t count against her during sentencing.