A Burbank man who runs a Glendale-based tax-preparation business was arrested by authorities on Tuesday after being indicted on 29 counts of fraud by a federal grand jury.
Vilen Tavatyan, 31, was charged with 19 counts of assisting and advising in the preparation of false tax returns and 10 counts of wire fraud.
Tavatyan, from at least February 2014 through April 2016, reportedly gained new clients by cultivating a reputation for being able to obtain large income-tax refunds for his customers, according to the indictment.
He would then “knowingly prepare false U.S. Individual Income Tax Return Forms” for his clients as well as “claim fictitious or greatly inflated deductions to which [he] knew his client or clients were not entitled,” the indictment states.
Some of the false claims he made on his clients’ returns included $15,200 in charitable donations and $40,804 in unreimbursed employee expenses, according to the indictment.
Authorities said his actions led to approximately $645,000 in refunds being disbursed by the IRS to people who were not entitled to the money. As a result of the fraud, at least 128 of Tavatyan’s clients had their returns audited, the indictment states.
Ryan L. Korner, the special agent in charge for the IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles office, said in a statement that “unscrupulous tax-return preparers” like Tavatyan not only victimize their clients with false promises of large tax returns, but they also “steal vital” government funds.
“Mr. Tavatyan’s indictment and arrest demonstrate the determination and hard work of our special agents to bring these alleged fraudsters to justice, and, in doing so, protect the public trust,” he said.
If convicted of the fraud, Tavatyan faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and three years in prison for each count of preparing false tax returns.
He would also have to turn over to the government any property or funds in his possession that were derived from the fraud.