False tax preparer exposed by CNN accused of Covid-19 loan fraud

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James Polzin, 47, is accused of making fraudulent government loan applications by claiming “nonexistent employees and earnings for businesses he supposedly owned and operated”.

CNN revealed Earlier this month, Polzin received at least six loans worth about $1.2 million from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was designed to help companies pay employees during the pandemic.

Polzin applied for the loans under similar or identical company names and was approved for the money last year, despite a string of disgruntled clients and a court order banning him from illegally impersonating a CPA.

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The criminal charges stemmed from three additional loans totaling approximately $450,000 awarded under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, another SBA initiative specifically targeted at businesses that have lost revenue as as a result of Covid-19. The same companies that obtained these loans have also received PPP loans, and the government cited CNN’s reporting in its complaint, but Polzin has not been specifically charged with PPP loan fraud.

The government alleges Polzin bought a house in Arizona in June with nearly $400,000 in cash, funded at least in part by proceeds from both EIDL and PPP loans, the government said. Polzin bought a Porsche the same month, according to government records, which did not specify whether Covid-19 relief funds were used for this purchase.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the Criminal Investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service are investigating Polzin, who is now in federal custody, according to a press release.

The government convinced a judge that Polzin posed a flight risk, noting in court files that Polzin is married to a Ukrainian national and spends much of his time abroad. He is said to have sold his Porsche for $120,000 the day before he was arrested last week, about two weeks after CNN’s investigation, while on his way to the airport on a one-way ticket to Ukraine.

Fake tax preparer gets six Covid-19 emergency loans worth more than $1 million

“Polzin could easily flee the country and use all the money he has stashed abroad to live the rest of his life as a fugitive,” the government said in its motion to detain him.

The government investigation found no evidence of legitimate business, and many former customers told CNN that Polzin took their money and never filed or misfiled their taxes. He has upset so many people that a Facebook group dedicated to his alleged misdeeds has gathered more than 100 members.

A client said Polzin had jeopardized his wife’s immigration status abroad. Another received a bill from the IRS demanding nearly $20,000 after she hired Polzin. They were furious when they saw that he had received multiple loans from the federal government.

Polzin previously did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the recent allegations and has not yet issued an official response to the complaint.

In a file earlier this week, Polzin’s lawyer fought against his client’s arrest.

“Uninvestigated allegations of other alleged acts mined from the Internet should not form the basis of a federal law enforcement agent’s affidavit,” Polzin’s attorney wrote, citing the government’s use of CNN’s reporting on Polzin’s PPP loans and customer accusations. “Polzin and his company have prepared hundreds of tax returns and it should come as no surprise that some customers have complaints.”

What should we investigate now? Email us: watchdog@cnn.com.

Bob Ortega of CNN contributed to this report.

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