Florida Woman Pleads Guilty to Participating in Nationwide Tax Fraud Scheme

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Orlando, FL – A Florida woman pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return with the IRS, whereby she obtained a refund she was not entitled to receive.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Rebecca Cyphers, 65, of Winter Springs, participated in and helped facilitate a nationwide tax fraud scheme. As part of the scheme, individuals prepared and assisted in the filing of tax returns for scheme participants, such as Cyphers, falsely claiming banks and other financial institutions had withheld large amounts of income tax from the participants that entitled them to a refund. In reality, the financial institutions had not paid any income to or withheld any taxes from these individuals.

As part of her plea, Cyphers admitted she filed a false 2013 amended income tax return claiming a refund she was not entitled to receive. As a result, the IRS issued her a refund of approximately $240,000. Cyphers then obstructed the IRS’s efforts to recover this ill-gotten refund by transferring funds into a trust, making a large cash withdrawal from the refund deposit and sending frivolous correspondence to the IRS. Cyphers also admitted to helping others promote the tax fraud scheme and recruit additional participants, even though she knew the scheme was illegal.

In March, the main promoter of the fraud scheme, Iran Backstrom, was sentenced to more than eight 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 to the scheme and providing information to another co-conspirator for use in the preparation of false tax returns.

Cyphers is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 24 and faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison for filing a false tax return. She also faces a period of supervised release, monetary penalties and restitution. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle 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 Middle District of Florida are prosecuting the case.