Four Roses Allegedly Victim of Tax Fraud Scheme
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Four Roses Bourbon Allegedly Victimized by Tax Fraud Scheme

Four Roses

Four Roses is the Kentucky bourbon distillery that was targeted in a phishing scheme, a defense attorney said.

A Houston, Texas resident this week pleaded guilty in a Kentucky federal court to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. after targeting a Kentucky bourbon distillery in a tax fraud scheme, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Wednesday.

The distillery’s identity was not revealed in the plea agreement, but a defense attorney said Four Roses was the distillery that fell victim to Taylor’s scam.

Earnest Taylor Jr. said in his plea agreement that he took part in a phishing scam to submit hundreds of fraudulent tax returns. He identified two other men charged in the case, Stephen Olewe and Hillary Kubwa, as co-conspirators.

Olewe and Kubwa ran a tax-preparation business in Houston. According to Taylor’s plea, the pair worked with partners in Africa on a scheme to file fraudulent returns in 2017 and 2018.

Olewe and Kubwa pleaded not guilty and were scheduled for trial last September but left the country and are considered fugitives. In addition to conspiracy, they are charged with aggravated identity theft.

Taylor faced up to 10 years in prison on the conspiracy charge, but due to entering a binding plea agreement, his sentence will be reduced to 15 months if U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tetenhove accepts the plea when sentencing Taylor.

The scammers, posing as the owners of a company, sent hundreds of emails “designed to create urgency” to companies across the country seeking W-2 information on employees, which included how much money they made, the amount of taxes withheld and personal identifying information, per the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The scheme used information from more than 30 businesses or organizations around the U.S. and filed more than 500 fraudulent returns, the plea deal said.

Taylor convinced two women in Houston to apply for electronic filing numbers and then took control of their accounts, according to his plea agreement. The scammers received $352,381 in fraudulent returns through those two accounts alone.

According to the indictment, the fake returns filed sought a total of $2 million in refunds.

Olewe, Kubya and Taylor gained control of electronic accounts used to file tax returns online. The perpetrators split money from the refund checks.


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David Morrow is the managing editor of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.