ORLANDO, Fla. – Two Orlando women have been convicted of preparing fraudulent tax returns over a three-year period.
Erotida Natasha Harden Ortiz was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and six counts of aiding in fraudulent and false statements related to IRS returns.
The jury also found Aida Cortes guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Ortiz and Cortes were originally indicted on April 13, 2022. Their sentencing hearings are scheduled for January 2023.
According to evidence admitted during trial, Ortiz owned Certified Taxes, LLC, and Cortes was her office manager. From 2016 through 2018, Ortiz and Cortes orchestrated a scheme to file taxes for unsuspecting taxpayers by filling out fraudulent Schedule C forms, which showed a business loss and enabled the taxpayers to obtain the Earned Income Tax credit.
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By obtaining the Earned Income Tax credit the taxpayers were able to receive refunds to which the taxpayers were not entitled. As a result, the taxpayers continued to come back to Certified Taxes every year.
The evidence revealed that Certified Taxes did not provide the tax returns to the taxpayers to review or go over the tax return with the taxpayers prior to filing them with the IRS.
During the conspiracy, Certified Taxes filed more than 3,600 tax returns with the IRS, with only 1 tax return resulting in a taxpayer owing money to the IRS.
For each tax return Certified Taxes charged the taxpayer approximately $400, which resulted in Certified Taxes receiving more than $1 million in tax preparation fees.
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