SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Tammy Dickinson, has announced that an Ozark, Mo., man pleaded guilty today in federal court to filing a false income tax return after he advertised on Craigslist to purchase identity information for children that he could claim as dependents as part of a large tax fraud scheme.
According to a press release, Raheem L. McClain, 37, of Ozark, pleaded guilty to the charge contained in a February 23, 2016, federal indictment before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush.
By pleading guilty, McClain admitted he engaged in a scheme to defraud the IRS by preparing and submitting false tax returns on behalf of himself and his girlfriend (who is not identified in court documents) between January 28, 2012, and February 4, 2016.
McClain also prepared and submitted false federal tax returns for his girlfriend for the years 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 claiming dependents to which she was not entitled to claim.
For tax returns filed for the calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013, McClain admitted he used the personal information for three dependents from a female he met on an online dating website to falsely claim these children as dependents and to falsely claim refunds for himself and his girlfriend. For a tax return for the calendar year 2014, McClain falsely listed his grandmother as a dependent on his girlfriend’s tax return.
Additionally, McClain admitted to posting an advertisement on Craigslist January 16, 2015, stating:
“WANTED: KIDS TO CLAIM ON INCOME TAXES – $750 (SPRINGFIELD, MO)
IF YOU HAVE SOME KIDS YOU AREN’T CLAIMING, I WILL PAY YOU A $750
EACH TO CLAIM THEM ON MY INCOME TAX. IF INTERESTED, REPLY TO THIS AD.”
On February 3, 2015, McClain caused a false federal tax return to be electronically signed and filed in his name for 2014, listing three dependents by name, Social Security number, and supposed relationship (two sons and one daughter). He acquired the dependents’ personal information from a woman who responded to his Craigslist ad.
On February 4, 2015, McClain caused two false federal tax returns to be filed through the mail in his name for 2012 and 2013. Though each of the returns listed the same three dependents, these two returns listed the same individuals as one son and two daughters. The woman who responded to the ad did not authorize McClain to use the dependent information on his 2012 tax return.
On February 4, 2016, McClain caused a false federal federal tax return to be electronically signed and filed in the name of his girlfriend for 2015, which claimed the same three dependents, but listed them as one nephew and two nieces. The woman who sold the dependent information did not know that McClain used the dependents on his girlfriend’s 2015 tax return.
The total actual tax loss for this case, including both federal and state refunds, is $21,986. McClain must pay restitution to the IRS and to the state of Missouri, including interest, under the terms of today’s plea agreement.
According to the plea agreement, McClain owes $597 in Missouri state income taxes for the years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 for the fraudulent tax returns he filed in his own name. He also owes more than $806 in Missouri state income taxes for the years 2012, 2013, and 2014 for the fraudulent state income tax returns he filed in his girlfriend’s name.
McClain is subject to a sentence of up to three years in federal prison without parole, under federal statutes.