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Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty in Fraudulent Tax Scheme

On December 2, 2013, in U.S. District Court, Baltimore, Maryland,  Tonia Lawson pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain fraudulent tax refunds while using the personal information of other individuals, without their knowledge or permission. 

From February 2010 through April 2013, Lawson conspired with Sheila Anderson-Cloude, a FMCSA employee, to prepare fraudulent tax returns. Lawson and Anderson-Cloude recruited individuals who ordinarily did not meet the threshold to file income tax returns, because they had little or no earned income, and convinced these individuals that they could obtain a substantial refund and therefore should file a federal individual income tax return.  At least 15 fraudulent tax refunds were deposited directly into accounts controlled by Lawson, who then wrote checks to the recruits to pay them for their portion of the refund. Over the course of the scheme, Lawson conspired in the filing of 84 fraudulent tax returns, with a resultant loss to the government of $546,785.

This investigation was conducted jointly with IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID).