Feds say LaPlace woman bilked $6 million from IRS

A LaPlace woman may have bilked the federal government out of as much as $6 million by preparing fraudulent tax returns for others, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a complaint filed in New Orleans federal court this week.

Shawanda Nevers prepared at least 735 tax returns over a three-year span beginning in 2009, according to the complaint, which alleges her business, 3LJ’s Industrial Service Solutions LLC, prepared “inaccurate and false returns on a regular and recurring basis.”

The government is seeking to permanently bar Nevers from preparing federal tax returns for others, asserting that inaccuracies in the returns she completed caused the IRS to issue erroneous refund checks to Nevers and her clients.

The complaint outlines a scheme in which Nevers allegedly fabricated losses incurred by phony businesses or exaggerated actual losses by legitimate enterprises. Nevers would have the IRS deposit the refunds into her account, from which she deducted a fee — up to $300 — before giving her clients the balance.

Altogether, the complaint alleges, Nevers may have cost the government up to $6 million in losses.

To get to that figure, the IRS reviewed 76 tax returns that Nevers prepared, according to the complaint. Nearly all included losses that auditors concluded were either overstated or fabricated. On several occasions, she allegedly said clients ran cash-based businesses, such as lawn-care or hair-styling outfits out of their homes, to claim false deductions.

On the returns reviewed, the average tax deficiency was about $8,000 per client, according to the complaint.

In one return, Nevers fabricated at least 200 receipts to support business expenses incurred by a client’s nonexistent catering operation, according to the complaint. When presented with the receipts, that person told an IRS agent that almost none were legitimate and the catering business did not exist.

Attempts to reach Nevers for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.