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Swampscott man pleads guilty to scheme to defraud IRS

BOSTON — A 46-year-old Swampscott man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to participating in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by falsely inflating taxpayers’ federal income-tax refunds and diverting a portion of those refunds to accounts he and his co-conspirators controlled, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Boris Shadari pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of filing a false tax return, three counts of aiding or assisting in filing a false tax return, two counts of theft of government funds, five counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of witness tampering.

Shadari’s co-conspirator, Christian Zynga, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in October 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 3, prosecutors said. 

“Boris Shadari, who is himself a member of the Congolese community, grossly exploited hardworking, vulnerable members of the Congolese community in Greater Boston in pursuit of his own personal financial enrichment,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Today, Boris Shadari stands a convicted felon for his predatory tactics against his own community who believed him to be a trustworthy resource. With this guilty plea, that targeted community gets justice. 

“Many immigrant communities seek out professional assistance from individuals that are fluent in the language of their origin. Taxes are hard enough to understand standing alone. If you add a potential language barrier they can be overwhelming. That Shadari threatened immigration consequences to encourage one of his victims to lie to federal authorities is unconscionable. Communities can contact their local taxpayer-assistance center if they have questions about tax preparers.”

From 2012 to 2018, Shadari and Zynga held Shadari out as a tax professional, targeting the Congolese community of Greater Boston. Until 2017, they took their customers’ tax information to a tax professional at a tax-preparation company, and provided the tax professional with false information concerning their customers’ dependents, dependent and childcare expenses and business income and losses in order to inflate the customers’ federal income-tax refunds, prosecutors said.

The two defendants then caused the refunds to be split between the customers’ bank accounts and accounts they and their co-conspirators controlled. After 2017, Shadari prepared customers’ returns himself and added false information to the returns to inflate the refunds due. Shadari also failed to report the income he received from this scheme on his own tax returns, prosecutors said.

After Shadari became aware of the investigation, he told a taxpayer to lie to investigators about the information in the returns he had prepared for her and suggested she would owe thousands of dollars back to the IRS and that her immigration status in the United States could be compromised if she did not do as he instructed, prosecutors said.

“For years, Boris Shadari took advantage of members of the Congolese community in greater Boston by fraudulently posing as a tax professional and falsely inflating their federal income-tax refunds so he could line his own pockets,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Division. “In carrying out this scheme, Shadari not only betrayed his victims’ trust, but he also cheated taxpayers. 

“With tax season upon us, the FBI strongly encourages the public to carefully evaluate those from whom they take tax or other financial advice. We work closely with the IRS and we will not hesitate to bring to justice other fraudulent tax preparers targeting immigrant communities in Massachusetts, like we did in this case.”

Ketty Larco-Ward, inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection’s Boston Division, said that Thursday’s plea “demonstrates the combined efforts of a multi-agency investigation into Shadari’s scheme of falsely inflating taxpayers’ federal income-tax refunds for personal gain. 

“Postal inspectors routinely conduct investigations that identify individuals involved in complex fraud schemes that are designed to inflate profits at the expense of unwitting victims.” 

Shadari faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States; three years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for the charges of filing a false tax return and aiding or assisting in filing a false tax return; up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 for the charge of theft of government funds; up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for for the charge of witness tampering; and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison consecutive to any sentence received on the other charges for the charge of aggravated identity theft.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19.

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