October 26, 2020

Jamaican jailed in US for US$3.6 million tax refund fraud

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pamwatsonFrom CARIBBEAN360

FLORIDA, United States, Friday December 4, 2015 – A well-known Jamaican-born community activist in South Florida has been jailed and ordered to pay $3.68 million in restitution for using her tax preparation business to facilitate an income tax refund fraud.

, a certified public account, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The 61-year-old had previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, admitting that she falsified hundreds of tax returns and refund amounts on Internal Revenue Service () forms without her clients’ knowledge.

According to court documents, she operated Watson & Associates Business Services, Inc., a tax preparation business in and her victims were members of the Jamaican community whom she claimed she was helping.

She has already handed over US$1.2 million in restitution, and her lawyers had used that as one of the mitigating factors when they argued that the judge be lenient and sentence her to three and a half years in prison. The prosecution had recommended five years.

But US District Judge James Cohn declined to give Watson a break.

“Quite honestly, I don’t believe it’s deserved in this case so I’m going to decline the invitation,” he said.

Watson had prepared clients’ tax returns and provided them with copies showing a refund amount and/or an amount payable to the IRS. Without the client’s knowledge or authorization, the figures on the return were changed, and a tax return showing a higher refund amount was filed with the IRS. The client’s bank account received the refund amount reflected on the copy they received from defendant Watson, and the remainder of the tax refund was deposited into an account controlled by Watson. The client did not have any knowledge of the refund falsification and splitting.

Court documents showed that Watson prepared approximately 557 Individual Income Tax Returns for tax years 2010 through 2013 for her clients. Approximately 395 had refunds split into the account controlled by her, or the entire refund diverted into her bank account. From approximately January 2011 through September 2014, defendant Watson deposited US$3,405,479.20 of client tax refunds from 183 individual taxpayers into accounts she controlled.

Watson also diverted cheques totaling US$222,676 into her personal IRS account, and an additional US$56,766 in IRS payments from her clients was applied to an associate’s tax account. Those checks were generated by clients who were informed by Watson that they were paying their own tax liability.

IMAGE: PAMELLA WATSON, A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNT, WAS SENTENCED TO SIX AND A HALF YEARS IN PRISON, FOLLOWED BY THREE YEARS OF SUPERVISED RELEASE.

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbean360.com/news/jamaican-jailed-in-us-for-tax-refund-fraud#ixzz3tfdCrmgh

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