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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 12, 2012

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Arturo Villarreal-Alba, from Whittier, California, pled guilty in a US District Court to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States through an income tax return filing criminal plan. Villarreal-Alba falsely claimed over $250 million in income tax refunds. Additionally, he was involved in mail fraud as part of a vehicle registration “title washing” criminal operation, according to the Whittier Daily News.

Villarreal-Alba, cooperated with Old Quest Foundation Inc. and De La Fuente Ramirez and Associates in filing more than 400 false federal income tax returns to the IRS. As a result of their illegal operation, the IRS mistakenly gave millions of dollars in tax refunds to the two companies’ customers. In his plea agreement, Villarreal-Alba confessed that he referred customers to both companies who operated an Original Issue Discount scheme. He stated he was involved in at least two federal income tax returns from 2009 that claimed false refunds totaling $998,478.

On April 30, 2011, Villarreal-Alba was also indicted in a vehicle registration “title-washing” scheme.

Villarreal-Alba confessed that from 2009 to 2011, he operated this scheme. In this criminal enterprise, he would tell victims that there was a “special program” where vehicles could be paid off. He explained to victims that in the end they would end up owning one or more of the vehicles free and clear.

Unfortunately, many victims never saw those promises fulfilled, and instead ended up purchasing several vehicles using their own credit to obtain financing from car dealers. The victims’ signatures were then forged by Villarreal-Alba in order to obtain clear title from the DMV. Villarreal-Alba and his criminal then resold the cars or used them as collateral to obtain auto title loans.

In auto title loan lending, a borrower offers up their car as collateral in order to secure money. The auto title loan lender then evaluates the value of the car and gives money based upon its worth. Using this method, Villarreal-Alba would obtain auto title loans to further fund his criminal operations.

Villarreal-Alba also abused the United States Postal Service by fraudulently receiving pink slips from the DMV. Finally, Villarreal-Alba failed to file tax returns and report to the IRS the thousands of dollars in income which he criminally made in 2009 to 2010 from the tax fraud and title-washing scheme.

His sentencing is scheduled for January 18, 2013.