A Florida woman was today sentenced to a year and a day in prison for helping run a nationwide tax evasion scheme and trying to block the IRS from recovering a fraudulent refund she had received after filing a false tax return.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Rebecca Cyphers, 65, of Winter Springs, Florida, participated in a nationwide tax evasion scheme from at least September 2014 to May 2016. As part of the scheme, promoters recruited clients by convincing them that their mortgages and other debts qualified them for tax refunds. Other members of the scheme prepared tax returns on behalf of clients to submit to the IRS, falsely reporting that banks and other financial institutions had withheld large amounts of income tax qualifying for refunds for customers. In reality, the financial institutions had paid no income or withheld taxes to the customers. Cyphers admitted his role in the program, which included inviting potential clients to at least one recruiting seminar. She also encouraged potential customers to participate in the scheme, even though Cyphers knew it was illegal.
Cyphers personally benefited from the scheme by filing an amended 2013 tax return that falsely claimed his mortgagee had withheld more than $560,000 in taxes. As a result, the IRS issued Cyphers a refund of approximately $240,000 that she was not entitled to receive. Cyphers hampered IRS efforts to recoup these ill-gotten profits by making large cash withdrawals from a bank account containing the refund amount, transferring much of the remaining amount to a trust, and sending correspondence. frivolous to the IRS.
In addition to the jail sentence, U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza ordered Cyphers to serve one year of probation and pay approximately $232,185.20 in restitution to the United States.
In March, the main promoter of the fraudulent scheme, Iran Backstrom, was sentenced to more than 8 years in prison, and Backstrom’s second-in-command, Mehef Bey, was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Another individual, Aaron Aqueron, was sentenced to 51 months in prison for recruiting clients for the scheme and providing information to another accomplice for use in preparing false tax returns. A fourth person, Yomarie Febres, was also sentenced to 51 months in prison for preparing false tax returns for participants in the scheme. Several other people in Florida and across the country have been sentenced to prison for their involvement in the scheme.
Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg for the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Central District of Florida made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Isaiah Boyd III of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chauncey A. Bratt for the Central District of Florida are prosecuting the case.