Chicago accountant indicted for tax fraud

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Oscar Garrett | Cook County sheriff’s office

A accountant has been indicted for allegedly forging Illinois tax documents and defrauding the state out of nearly $500,000.

Oscar Garrett, 55, is accused of obtaining fraudulent Illinois tax returns in the names of more than a dozen clients between 2011 and 2015, according to a statement from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

While working as an accountant and tax preparer, Garrett allegedly filled out 1099-R forms to report self-employed income in the clients’ names when they didn’t have any such income, prosecutors said. He filed these returns without his clients’ knowledge and received more than $485,000 in fraudulent tax refunds from the state.

Garrett, who lives in Chicago, has been charged with identity theft, income tax evasion, theft of government property, money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud and forgery, the attorney general’s office said. If convicted, he would face a sentence of six to 30 years in prison. He previously served more than two and a half years in federal prison for defrauding the IRS in a similar scheme.

“The defendant operated a scam to defraud the state and his clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for his own profit,” Madigan said in the statement. “When selecting a professional tax preparer, consumers should make sure they hire a reputable accountant and always review their tax return before signing and filing it.”

Bond for Garrett was set at $300,000, and he must prove he has a valid source of income before posting bond, prosecutors said. His arraignment was scheduled for April 13.

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