Tampa, Florida - A Florida man pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to defraud the United States by promoting a tax fraud scheme to more than 200 individuals in at least 19 states. He also pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct the IRS.
According to court documents, Aaron Aqueron of Clermont recruited clients to a nationwide tax fraud scheme by convincing them that their mortgages and other debts entitled them to tax refunds. Aqueron collected tax and financial information from these clients to send to co-conspirators, who prepared tax returns and other tax documents to submit to the IRS. These tax returns falsely claimed that banks and other financial institutions had withheld large amounts of income taxes from the clients, and that the clients were entitled to a refund. In reality, the financial institutions had not paid any income to or withheld any taxes from the clients. In total, the tax returns filed by the clients sought more than $14.6 million in tax refunds and caused the IRS to actually pay out more than $7.6 million in refunds.
As part of his plea, Aqueron admitted he and his co-conspirators received fees from his clients ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 each. Aqueron further admitted he did not report on his 2015 individual income tax return the income he received from the scheme. Aqueron also personally filed false tax returns on which he fraudulently claimed that he was entitled to tax refunds. In response to one of these false tax returns, the IRS issued Aqueron a refund of $193,347.97.
Aqueron further admitted that he attempted to obstruct the IRS’s efforts to collect the tax refunds it issued to his clients, pursuant to the fraud scheme. Aqueron and his conspirators coached clients on ways to obstruct IRS collection efforts. For example, after learning one client had begun to receive letters from the IRS about collections, Aqueron instructed the client: “Make sure you move money out of your name and out of the banking institutions and be smart.” Aqueron also attempted to obstruct IRS efforts to collect his own fraudulently-obtained refund, including by transferring money into a trust.
Aqueron is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States and three years in prison for corruptly endeavoring to obstruct or impede the IRS. Aqueron also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Aqueron’s conspirators are scheduled to go to trial in January 2022.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppmann for the Middle District of Florida made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Melissa S. Siskind, Kavitha Bondada, and Isaiah Boyd, III of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chauncey A. Bratt of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida are prosecuting the case.