Hampton man pleads guilty to seeking fraudulent IRS COVID relief

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ATLANTA – Robert Ward, who filed a false Form 7200 with the IRS, has pleaded guilty to a charge of filing a false claim with the United States.

“Unfortunately, criminals continue to take advantage of the broad COVID relief measures available to assist in this time of crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.  “We are committed to the prosecution of those who seek to enrich themselves by defrauding the government.”

“This COVID pandemic has brought out the best in some people, while bringing out the worst in others,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey. “This case is one of many examples of the pandemic bringing out the worst in people.   IRS-CI remains committed to investigating and recommending prosecution of anyone attempting to exploit COVID relief programs.”

According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: Ward filed a fraudulent Form 7200 with the IRS claiming advance payment of employer credits of $627,326.  He falsely claimed to have a business with 50 employees and to have paid over $450,000 in quarterly wages.  In reality, his business was a sole proprietorship, and he was not entitled to the advance payment of credits. 

When used legitimately, a Form 7200 allows an employer to request an advance payment of employer credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  The FFCRA provides small and midsize employers refundable tax credits that reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19.

Robert Ward, 35, of Hampton, Georgia, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2022, at 2:00 p.m., before U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross.

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This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Huber, Deputy Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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