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(VIDEO) Cheyenne fraud case among 2023 IRS investigations


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Cheyenne resident Carissa Dunn-Pollard was one of many people investigated by the IRS in 2023 after she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Cheyenne Little Theater Players Inc.

Pollard worked as the part-time bookkeeper for 18 months at the Cheyenne Little Theater Players Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Cheyenne that relies primarily on volunteers and part-time employees. During this time, according to reports from the IRS, she devised a scheme to embezzle $220,481.57 from the organization by creating payroll deposits to her bank account.

Pollard spent part of the funds on a country club membership, a Mercedes and a suite at a Colorado Rockies baseball game for her son’s baseball team. In addition to the wire fraud, Pollard failed to file tax returns from 2018 to 2021, resulting in taxes owed for the four years totaling 113,451.58, which must be paid in addition to her restitution.

In fiscal year 2023, IRS Criminal Investigation initiated more than 2,676 criminal investigations, identified over $37.1 billion from tax and financial crimes and obtained an 88.4% conviction rate on cases accepted for prosecution. The CI FY23 Annual Report, released Monday, details these statistics as well as important partnerships and significant criminal enforcement actions from the past fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2022, and ended Sept. 30, 2023.

“IRS Criminal Investigation plays a vital role for tax administration and law enforcement, and the results from the past year dramatically illustrate the results,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Criminal Investigation’s work has identified tens of billions of dollars on issues including tax fraud, money laundering and cybercrimes. The work of Criminal Investigation employees — who often put themselves in harm’s way to get the job done — continues to make a difference in helping uphold tax laws and protect taxpayers.”

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more.

Special agents in the department are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a nearly 90% federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.

CI is also the only federal law enforcement agency that spends 100% of its time on financial investigations. The agency uses data analytics to identify and investigate some of the most complex financial crimes.

During FY23, CI investigators queried Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data in over 89.6% of their investigations, and 14% of CI’s investigations were initiated based on BSA information. CI also utilized data analytics to support over 1,300 questionable refund and return preparer investigations, 231 of which included identity theft, in FY23. Additionally, CI’s team seized over 1.7 petabytes of digital data from over 3,300 computer devices in support of investigations during the fiscal year.

“IRS-CI Denver Field Office special agents focus on crimes in our region and lead investigations around the world,” said Todd Martin, Special Agent in Charge, CI Denver Field Office. “Our agents specialize in investigating sophisticated financial crimes including evading federal income or payroll taxes, money laundering, and COVID-19 relief fraud.”

In FY23, CI saw significant wins from partnerships both within and outside the U.S. In July 2023, a CI investigation, with assistance from the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement, led to the indictment and arrest of an international tax advisor accused of concealing millions of dollars of income for high-income Americans.

CI’s participation in the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement Task Force played a major part in the success of Operation SpecTor. This operation netted 288 arrests and the seizure of 117 firearms, 850 kilograms of drugs that included 64 kilograms of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced narcotics and $53.4 million in cash and virtual currencies.

“Following the money is what we have done for more than 100 years,” said CI Chief Jim Lee. “This report is a reflection of the tremendous work our agency has accomplished in an ever-changing, challenging financial crime landscape. Tax and other financial crimes know no borders, and our team will continue to uncover and dismantle egregious acts and criminal organizations. I could not be prouder of our team and our results.”

The report also includes additional case examples for each U.S. field office, an overview of CI’s international footprint, details about the specialized services provided by CI and investigative statistics, broken down by discipline, for FY23.