WRAL Investigates

Tax preparer helps nab pair accused of fraud

Posted May 16, 2013 2:59 p.m. EDT
Updated May 16, 2013 6:55 p.m. EDT

— A local tax preparer working as a government witness led to the arrest of two women charged in a tax fraud scheme involving people suspected of living in the U.S. illegally.

The tax fraud scheme is a $4 billion problem across the United States that involves suspected illegal immigrants getting billions of dollars in tax credits for children who don't live in America, or don’t even exist, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Angela Flores and her daughter, Karen Mejia, are accused of wrongly getting more than $60,000 in tax refunds this year. They made their initial appearances in federal court in Raleigh on Thursday.

The criminal complaint states Flores told the tax preparer to take children from one tax return and put them on others to help cash in on the federal child tax credit.

The preparer first became a government informant in 2009 – during another tax fraud investigation involving Flores.

The scheme was so profitable that, when the preparer said he was getting heat from the IRS and $100 per return wasn't enough, Flores and Mejia quickly agreed to pay start paying him $350 cash for each return, according to court documents.

Seven months ago, WRAL Investigates highlighted a similar multimillion-dollar scheme out of the Charlotte area.

Investigators uncovered more than 1,000 tax returns last year linked to eight addresses in North Carolina, with refunds worth more than $5 million. Agents confiscated hundreds of refund checks, lists of Hispanic names, a box of Mexican birth certificates and tax returns sent to people linked to falsified documents.

The IRS has tightened rules for child tax credits this year in an effort to fight fraud, and several people have been arrested in eastern North Carolina in recent months on fraud charges.