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Crime & Courts

Palm Harbor man charged in $1.7 million tax-refund fraud

Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:26 PM

A Palm Harbor man accused of stealing at least $1.7 million from federal taxpayers through income-tax-refund fraud was arrested Friday by the Internal Revenue Service.

Carlos Oscar Johnson is accused in a federal complaint of filing more than 200 fraudulent tax returns to obtain refunds using stolen personal information. He used the money to make purchases, including plane tickets and a stay at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas.

According to the complaint, Johnson stayed at a Tampa hotel at least twice, using the hotel's Internet to file at least 42 fraudulent tax returns. Another 173 returns were filed from an Internet address assigned to Johnson's home in Palm Harbor, the complaint says.

Last year, he was stopped by Clearwater police for a parking violation. Officers searching his wallet found five prepaid debit cards later determined to contain tax refunds filed in other people's names, according to the affidavit.

Johnson worked as a certified nursing assistant at the Sabal Palms Care Center, according to the affidavit. His wages for the first quarter of last year totaled $456. In 2010, his income was $14,000. (813) 259-7837 Twitter: @ElaineTBO