Yes, busy season sucks. But getting sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison during busy season sucks way more. Still, I don’t think any of our friends on Tax Twitter are going to feel sorry for Nikia Tull of Norfolk, VA, who was recently sentenced to 33 months in the pokey for wire fraud and preparing more than 30 fraudulent income tax returns.
So sayeth the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia:
According to court documents and the evidence presented at trial, Nikia Tull, 44, was the co-owner, operator, and manager of YT Phoenix Enterprises, Inc., aka Phoenix Financial Tax Service, a tax preparation service based in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Suffolk. Between 2014 and 2018, Tull willfully participated in preparing and submitting 33 federal income tax returns to the IRS containing numerous false and fraudulent items. In 2019, Tull continued her fraud by submitting forged and fraudulently altered bank statements to a private lending company in support of loan applications for $70,000.
According to court documents, Tull included a variety of false and fraudulent items on the income tax returns of her clients without their knowledge or consent. Some of the fraudulent items Tull included were residential energy credits, unreimbursed employee expenses, charitable contributions, and business losses. Tull charged her clients based on the number of separate forms filed with each return, so she was able to collect more fees for herself by including the false items and amounts. As a result of Tull’s fraudulent conduct, the IRS suffered a total loss of approximately $230,000.
In addition to defrauding the IRS, Tull also devised a wire fraud scheme aimed at a small business lender in which she submitted materially false and fraudulently altered bank statements in support of online applications for loans of $20,000 and $50,000 for her business.
After a seven-day trial, a federal jury convicted Tull on November 12, 2020 on five counts of wire fraud and 33 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent income tax returns.
Tull also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $162,460.