A Toronto gambler has run out of luck in his bid to outsmart the US government.
William Henry Woo — a Canadian living in Austin, Texas — will spend 30 months in federal prison for making false statements on income tax returns. In addition, the 67-year-old must also repay $1,771,011.67.
According to court documents, Woo defrauded the US Department of Treasury of nearly US$1.8 million in tax refund money between 2006 – 2010. To do so, the Canadian submitted “duplicate and inflated refund requests to the IRS Service Centre as a Canadian citizen seeking automatically withheld gambling winnings.”
In the end, Woo pleaded guilty to two counts of the nine-count indictment brought against him in October 2022.
Government: Mr. Woo lost his biggest bet
Per authorities, Woo is an admitted gambling addict.
However, US Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas had little sympathy for the man:
“Mr. Woo, who admitted his addiction to gambling, lost his biggest bet. He got caught on his gamble that he could cheat the U.S. government on his taxes.”
“I appreciate the work of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) to investigate Mr.Woo’s deceitful conduct, allowing our system to deliver justice.”
Stealing from the treasury is stealing from every American
IRS CI investigated Woo’s case. Meanwhile, the special agent in charge was Ramsey E. Covington of IRS CI’s Houston Field Office.
According to its website, CI special agents work on various cases. However, they emphasize traditional tax-related crimes such as employment tax, identity theft, corporate fraud, etc.
To that end, Agent Covington hopes Woo’s case serves as a cautionary tale to other grifters.
“Fraud schemes against the IRS will not be tolerated, as stealing from the Nation’s treasury is stealing from every American, and Woo’s sentencing today concretely shows the severity of his crime.
As the 2023 filing season begins, IRS-CI Special Agents remain committed to investigating, quickly stopping, and recommending for criminal prosecution all frauds against the IRS including abusive tax schemes, return preparer fraud, and stolen identity refund fraud.”
Deception and fraud exist in Canadian gambling, too
Recently, Canada’s gambling sector has also dealt with its fair share of fraud attempts.
For instance, on Jan.24, an ex-Loto Quebec employee, Martin Raymond, was handed a one-year suspended jail term for doing just that. Raymond allegedly diverted nearly $22,000 from almost 30 Loto-Quebec user accounts.
However, unlike Woo, Raymond’s sentence was much lighter.
On a larger scale, former Liberal MP Raj Grewal’s situation recently swept Canadian headlines. In Grewal’s case, accusations range from defrauding millions of dollars to abusing his political power.
Like Woo, Grewal admitted to having a gambling addiction which he says compromised his judgement. Grewal says he participated in self-exclusion programs in Ontario and Quebec.