"Milledgeville man" gets federal prison time after leading $26 million income tax fraud scheme

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The Department of Justice released a press release earlier this week that centered around a "Milledgeville man" who was sentenced to 105 months in federal prison.

Iran V. Backstrom, "aka Shariyf Noble," according to the press release, led a scheme that "involved recruiting clients and preparing false tax returns on the clients’ behalf by convincing them their mortgages and other debts entitled them to tax refunds."

Along with the sentence in federal prison, where there is no parole or early release, Backstrom and his co-conspirator were ordered to pay a whopping $26 million in restitution to the United States government.

Added the press release: "Between 2014 and 2016, Backstrom and (co-conspirator Mehef ) Bey held seminars across the county to publicize the scheme. As part of the scheme, Backstrom, Bey and their co-conspirators helped prepare and file tax returns for the participants that sought more than $64 million refunds from the IRS. These tax returns falsely claimed that banks and other financial institutions had withheld large amounts of income tax from the participants, thereby entitling the clients to a refund. In reality, the financial institutions had not paid any income to, or withheld any taxes from, these individuals. To make the refund claims appear legitimate, however, Backstrom, Bey and their co-conspirators filed fraudulent tax documents with the IRS that matched the withholding information listed on the tax returns, making them appear as if they had been issued by the banks."

Backstrom and Bey "admitted they and their co-conspiratorws charged participants approximately $10,000 to $15,000 in fee for the preparation of each tax return."

Backstrom's connection to Milledgeville isn't immediately clear, however. He has no criminal history here, and an internet search of his name yields very few results, aside from graduating high school in Chicago in 1991.

“Tax fraud is a serious crime,” stated U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “The defendants in this case employed a complex scheme to defraud the IRS out of millions of dollars. We encourage consumers to be vigilant in selecting legitimate tax preparers as we continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prosecute those who willfully violate our nation’s tax laws.”

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