Jamaican Diaspora News

Prominent Jamaican businesswoman, Pamella Watson, pleads guilty to tax fraud in South Florida

Pamela Watson, 60, a CPA with a tax-preparation office in South Florida, had been considered a model of Jamaican success, and pleaded guilty in a United States federal court to one charge of wire fraud. She could spend 20 years in prison for the crime. Several other charges, which included filing fictitious tax returns and laundering fraudulently obtained refunds, were dropped under a plea agreement made with the U.S. Attorney’s office. Court records state that Watson took advantage of hundreds of clients, many of them members of the Jamaican Diaspora in Florida, by changing their real tax returns to inflate their refund claims without their knowledge. Watson, a naturalized U.S. citizen, duped the Internal Revenue Service and kept $3.4 million in “excessive” tax refunds for herself, giving her clients their actual refund amounts, between 2011 and 2014, hiding the money in various bank accounts under her control. She also used $279,000 in IRS check payments made by her clients to pay off her own tax debts. Watson was prominent in the business community in South Florida and once hosted fundraising events for Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and former Prime Minister Andrew Holness. She also served on a number of boards of Caribbean related organizations in South Florida. According to Kelly R. Jackson, a special agent responsible for IRS criminal investigations in South Florida, Watson’s clients had no knowledge that she was filing the fake tax returns in their name, but she clearly knew that what she was doing was wrong.

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