Chicago-area tax preparer sentenced for false return scheme


Defendant filed over 900 fraudulent returns claiming more than $1.3 million in refunds

Date: April 23, 2024


An Illinois woman was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison for preparing and filing false income tax returns for clients.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Vervia Watts, of Lansing, operated a tax preparation business in Illinois and elsewhere. From at least January 2017 through June 2023, Watts prepared and filed over 900 fraudulent income tax returns for her clients, reporting false education expenses and business income to obtain larger refunds from the IRS than the clients were otherwise entitled to receive. Watts received at least $300 for each return she prepared. The IRS paid approximately $1.3 million in fraudulent refunds.

In addition to her prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Lindsay C. Jenkins for the Northern District of Illinois ordered Watts to serve one year of supervised release and to pay approximately $1,349,314 in restitution to the IRS.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

IRS Criminal Investigation investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Meredith Havekost and Regina Jeon of the Tax Division prosecuted the case.