The Department of Justice issued a press release today, October 28, 2009, about $3.3 trillion in fraudulent refunds.  In Washington they used to say a billion here and a billion there, pretty soon you are talking about a lot of money.  Now it’s a trillion here and a trillion there.  You have to admire the audacity of the schemers.

The United States this week has filed civil injunction lawsuits across the country against seven individuals, the Justice Department announced today. The federal suits – filed in Los Angeles; Panama City, Fla.; Salt Lake City; Nashville, Tenn.; and Pocatello, Idaho – allege that the defendants promote a tax fraud scheme designed to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury through fraudulent tax refund claims.

Papers filed in the cases say the defendants prepared tax returns requesting a total of $562.4 million in bogus refunds. One defendant – Dick Jenkins, of Heber City, Utah – allegedly holds himself out as a CPA and requested a $210 million fraudulent refund for one customer. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) catches the vast majority of the bogus tax returns and blocks the claimed refunds.

Under the tax fraud scheme, known as the “redemption” or “OID redemption” scheme, participants file a series of false IRS forms, including tax returns, amended returns, and Forms 1099 (including Form 1099-OID) or Forms W-2, to request fraudulent tax refunds based on phony claims of large income tax withholding. According to papers filed in these cases and earlier cases against other alleged scheme promoters, redemption scheme promoters are tax defiers who falsely tell customers that the federal government maintains “secret” accounts of money for its citizens. Promoters claim to be able to help customers access the secret funds by filing the false IRS forms.

Altogether, according to the IRS, redemption scheme participants (including customers of the defendants in the seven lawsuits filed this week) have requested a total of $3.3 trillion in fraudulent refunds.