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Mount Vernon man sentenced to prison for filing fake tax returns

U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria (via Google Maps)

A 58-year-old tax preparer from Mount Vernon was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week for filing fake tax returns for his “unsuspecting” clients, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lawrence Appiah-Osei pleaded guilty in June to operating the scheme from 2017 to 2020 from his Mount Vernon home, defrauding the U.S. government of more than $1.4 million, according to a release published Friday (Nov. 3) by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Appiah-Osei started his tax preparation business, New Look Enterprise, in 2016, and the following year “executed a scheme to fraudulently inflate the tax refunds of his clients,” the release said.

“Appiah-Osei falsely claimed that his clients operated businesses that lost thousands of dollars each year,” prosecutors said in the release. “These fraudulent losses drove down the clients’ taxable income and increased the clients’ tax refunds.”

The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation division estimated the tax loss to be nearly $1.5 million, according to court records.

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