Bakersfield man pleads guilty to $25 million tax fraud scheme

Miguel Martinez submitted fraudulent tax returns to the IRS for hundreds of people as part of the scheme.

A Bakersfield man pleaded guilty in federal court to a $25 million tax fraud scheme. 

Miguel Martinez, 39, had conspired to submit $25 million in fraudulent individual federal income tax returns. 

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Driving the news: According to court records, Martinez was one of the leaders of a scheme to file hundreds of fraudulent tax returns that claimed millions of dollars in refunds from November 2019 through June 2023. 

  • Martinez and other suspects caused false wage and withholding information for individuals that supposedly worked at fake businesses to be submitted to the IRS. 
  • Federal agents found that the individuals did not work at the businesses and that the businesses were fake because they never actually paid any withholdings to the IRS. 
  • The IRS paid out $2.3 million in fraudulent tax refunds to the perpetrators of the scheme. 
  • Federal agents arrested Martinez and searched his three homes, finding another $750,000 in fraudulent tax refund checks, identification cards for over 200 people and multiple firearms and ammunition. 

What they’re saying: “Mr. Martinez orchestrated an elaborate scheme to steal approximately $25 million by filing hundreds of fraudulent federal income tax returns using fake businesses with false refund claims all while attempting to challenge the integrity of the U.S. tax system,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Oakland Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Mosley. “His plea reinforces that IRS Criminal Investigation special agents and investigative staff are up to that challenge and committed to following the money and directing criminals to justice.”

What we’re watching: Martinez will be sentenced on Sep. 23 and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

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