Georgia man pleads guilty to running nationwide tax fraud scheme
A Georgia man pleaded guilty Wednesday to promoting a tax fraud scheme to more than 200 participants in 19 states.
Iran V. Backstrom, also known as Shariyf Noble, of Milledgeville also pleaded guilty to helping others prepare and file false tax returns for people recruited to the scheme. According to court documents, Backstrom was the main promoter of the scheme, which involved recruiting clients and preparing false tax returns on their behalf by convincing them their mortgages and other debts entitled them to tax refunds. He and his co-conspirators held seminars across the country between 2014 and 2016 to publicize the scheme.
Backstrom helped prepare and file tax returns for the participants, which collectively sought more than $25 million in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. The returns falsely claimed that banks and other financial institutions had withheld large amounts of income tax from the participants, thereby entitling them to a refund. In reality, the financial institutions had not paid or withheld any taxes from those involved in the scheme. As part of his plea, Backstrom admitted he gave orders to others as part of the scheme. Several of his co-conspirators had previously pleaded guilty for their roles.
Backstrom further admitted he and his co-conspirators charged participants $10,000 to $15,000 for preparation of each tax return. Although Backstrom personally received $1 million for his role in the scheme, he did not file tax returns for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 to report the income.
Backstrom faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States and three years in prison for each of the seven counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of a false tax return. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
A U.S. district court judge will schedule sentencing for a later date.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.