Claims of More Than $5 Million in Bogus Earnings from Fictitious Company Lead to Woman’s Arrest Defendant sought nearly $40,000 refund from New York State Tax Department
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The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and the Erie County District Attorney’s Office announced the indictment of Stephanie Izevbizua. She was arrested on March 1, 2019 after she arrived in person to pick up a $39,170 refund check, which Tax Department investigators believe she claimed using phony information.
On April 25, 2019, 34-year-old Stephanie Izevbizua was arraigned before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia on the following felony charges: one count of Attempted Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, one count of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
In March 2018, Izevbizua, the owner and reportedly sole New York-based employee of Web Debt Solutions, an apparently fake company with no record of any business in New York State, allegedly filed a personal income tax return claiming wage earnings of $7,500. On this initial tax return, Izevbizua allegedly requested an $878 refund.
Several weeks later, Izevbizua allegedly filed an amended tax return claiming wages in excess of $5 million from Web Debt Solutions. This amended return noted nearly $515,000 in withholding and requested a refund. After submitting other amended returns, she fraudulently requested a refund of approximately $39,000.
“These blatant acts of fraud are a detriment to local communities statewide and must never be tolerated,” said John Harford, head of the New York State Tax Department’s Criminal Investigations Division. “The patience and persistence of our tax investigators is commendable as this defendant tried repeatedly to deprive honest taxpayers of their tax dollars used for essential public programs and services. We’ll continue to work directly with Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, and all levels of law enforcement, to ensure tax cheats are held accountable.”
“I commend the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for their work in the investigation and for bringing this matter to my office,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn. “My office will continue to prosecute those who attempt to profit at the expense of New York State taxpayers to the fullest extent of the law.”
Izevbizua is currently being held on $100,000 bail. She is scheduled to return to State Supreme Court in Buffalo on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.