A Milwaukee man has been sentenced to serve 60 months in jail after he used a tax refund scheme to illegally obtain over $1 million. Francis Burns was sentenced in the Eastern District of Wisconsin and will be required to repay the $1,127,960 he illegally obtained.
Burns was initially charged with counts of committing wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and submitting a false claim to the IRS in November 2020. A press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Wisconsin explains Burns claimed to be filing returns on behalf of a fake estate or trust that he made up. Those fraudulent tax returns were based on fake 1099 forms that falsely claimed large amounts of income were withheld for federal taxes by third parties. However, the statement says Burns was unemployed with no estate or trust.
Between 2016 and 2019, Burns used this scheme to file false tax returns that asked for refunds worth more than $80 million. He also filed additional tax returns asking for over $2 billion, according to the press release. After getting a portion of the funds, Burns used the money to buy an “expensive house in Chicago, a Mercedes, and other personal expenses,” according to the press release.
An indictment in the case shows that on May 26, 2017, Burns transferred $757,725 from the fraudulent “Francis Burns Trust’s” account to an escrow account for the purchase of a home located on Drexel Boulevard in Chicago.
On Sept. 12, 2017, Burns made another transfer in the amount of $69,675 from “World Burn Inc’s” account to Voss Automotive Group in Las Vegas for the purchase of a 2008 Mercedes S550 limousine.
After receiving several warnings from the IRS regarding the “frivolous nature” of his claims, the organization later seized and forfeited a significant percentage of the money, the house and the car.
“Today’s sentence is the direct result of Burns’ relentless efforts to defraud the IRS and line his own pockets at the expense of his fellow citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad. “I commend the hard work of all involved in seeking to hold Burns responsible for his actions and to seek justice for every individual in this country who pays his or her fair share of taxes.”