The IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) has revealed its top 10 cases of 2023, shedding light on major incidents of global fraud. CI Chief Jim Lee emphasized the scale of personal gain for criminals, with billions of dollars involved and victims spanning the globe.
Chief Lee highlighted the success of CI investigations in dismantling international tax schemes targeting individuals’ personal information. Additionally, the CI probed multi-level marketing schemes linked to cryptocurrency, aiming to protect individuals from fraudulent activities.
The CI’s efforts also exposed one of the most substantial fraud schemes in history related to renewable fuel credits.
Four CryptoInvestment Schemes Make the IRS List
Among the top 10 cases, four fraudulent investment schemes related to cryptocurrencies caught the attention of the IRS CI. These cases underscore the challenges posed by illicit activities within the digital currency space.
Founder of Oyster Pearl cryptocurrency, Amir Bruno Elmaani, received a four-year federal prison sentence for orchestrating a tax evasion scheme. Elmaani misrepresented income related to the Pearl token, leading to a tax loss of approximately $5.5 million.
Involved in Silk Road dark web fraud, James Zhong received a one-year prison sentence for wire fraud. He unlawfully obtained around 50,000 bitcoins from the Silk Road marketplace in 2012, resulting in a complex scheme valued at approximately $3.4 billion.
Operating a Bitcoin money laundering scheme, Ian Freeman from New Hampshire was sentenced to 96 months in prison. Freeman facilitated money laundering by exchanging over $10 million from romance scams and internet fraud for Bitcoin.
Co-founder of the OneCoin cryptocurrency scheme, Karl Sebastian Greenwood, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the massive OneCoin fraud. Greenwood and Cryptoqueen orchestrated the fraud, attracting over $4 billion in investments from millions of victims. Greenwood was ordered to pay approximately $300 million in forfeiture.