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Preparer Sought $10M in Bogus Refunds

A former Orange County, Calif.-based tax preparer has been found guilty of a multi-year tax fraud conspiracy. A jury found Stephen Jake McGonigle, 66, of Victorville, Calif., in the case that spanned three continents.

He was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

McGonigle was found to have recruited others, including two-co-defendants who had already pleaded guilty,but not yet been sentenced, in a scheme that began in 2013.

He sent one o-defendant to Thailand to obtain ID documents that utilized the stolen identifies of victims. He then directed a co-conspirator to use the fake IDs to obtain prepaid debit cards, as well as numerous commercial mailboxes across Orange County and elsewhere.

The debit cards were sent to the mailboxes with McGonigle and his conspirators filing fraudulent tax returns using identity the theft victims’ Social Security numbers with the refunds to be deposited in the debit cards or bank accounts the group controlled

IP addresses used to file fraudulent returns were traced back to office spaces leased by McGonigle and to Costa Rica, where law enforcement surveillance and travel records showed that McGonigle and his co-conspirators opened an office and hired employees to help file additional fraudulent returns. 

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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