(STL.News) – A Gladwin, Michigan man was charged in a criminal complaint with wire fraud related to his work as a tax return preparer, announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Sarah Kull, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.
Mark Alan Patterson, age 51,, made his initial appearance in federal court today. Patterson was released on bond.
“Investigating tax refund fraud is a top priority for IRS Criminal Investigation,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Sarah Kull. “Stealing client tax refunds is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers and IRS-CI works tirelessly to hold those that commit refund fraud accountable for their actions.”
According to the criminal complaint, Patterson worked as a tax return preparer for Schuster Tax Service in Beaverton, Michigan. From 2015 until February 2020, it is alleged that Patterson stole various portions of clients’ tax refunds by directing portions of clients’ tax refunds into bank accounts that Patterson controlled. Patterson did not inform the clients that he was taking the money from their tax refunds and instead deceived them by giving them unfiled versions of returns showing that they had a smaller refund amount.
In late February of 2020, Jennifer Schuster Semer, owner of Schuster Tax Service, informed law enforcement officers that one of her former employees had engaged in a potential fraud scheme. Ms. Semer discovered approximately 120 client tax returns dating back to 2015 that had refunds electronically diverted, in part, to bank accounts under Patterson’s control. Ms. Semer calculated an approximate loss to her clients of over $400,000.00 and immediately contacted local authorities.
United States Attorney Matthew Schneider, in announcing the charges, praised the cooperation of Ms, Semer in bringing this case to the attention of law enforcement.
If convicted, Patterson could face 20 years in federal prison.