Last month, a Royal Oak man pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain for his involvement in the fraudulent filing of tax returns with the IRS. Shane Bateman, 42, is alleged to have stolen the identities and obtained mailing addresses and other information to use for filing false tax returns.
Bateman reportedly stole this information and gave it to other individuals, who used the stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. All of the returns were completed in a way that the purported taxpayers were owed a refund. Once the refunds were processed by the IRS, they were loaded onto Turbo Tax Visa debit cards. In all, the fraudulent tax returns filed with the IRS requested refunds of about $1.7 million. There were approximately 180 false tax returns filed; Bateman’s take in the scheme via ATM withdrawal amounted to about $186,000.
Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS, Criminal Investigation Carolyn Weber and U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade announced Bateman’s involvement and guilty plea in the scheme. Bateman collected the personally identifiable information from victims during a time period beginning in September of 2011 through April of 2012, according to court records. Bateman is scheduled to be sentenced on October 2. The criminal penalties for filing fraudulent tax returns include up to ten years in prison, fines of up to $250,000, and restitution.
Bateman’s plea agreement states that he was not aware of the entire scope of the scheme to defraud innocent people. His part in the scheme was to collect the addresses and other personal information of innocent individuals, then provide that information to a “supervisor” in the scheme.
White collar crimes such as tax fraud typically do not involve violence, however the criminal penalties are still harsh. White collar crimes are generally money-related, financial crimes in which the defendant uses some devious or underhanded method to steal money that belongs to someone else. Money laundering, tax evasion, embezzlement, health care fraud, and racketeering or RICO charges are all examples of white collar crimes.
While Bateman may not have physically harmed anyone with a weapon or caused property damage in the course of committing the crime he is accused of, no doubt the repercussions will be damaging to his reputation and career. Considering the potential loss of freedom, fines, and other consequences, anyone who is accused of a white collar crime should consult with a seasoned Michigan criminal defense lawyer right away.