Two Orlando women ordered to pay nearly $4 million in restitution to IRS after tax scheme

ORLANDO, Fla. — Two Orlando women have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a scheme to prepare fraudulent tax returns.

Erotida Natasha Harden Ortiz was sentenced to eight years in federal prison, while Aida Cortes was sentenced to four years and six months in federal prison.

The women were found guilty by a federal jury in October 2022 on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing false statements related to IRS tax returns.


According to evidence presented at the trial and sentencing hearing, Ortiz owned and operated Certified Taxes, LLC, while Cortes worked as her office manager.

Prior to opening Certified Taxes, the women had worked for two other tax businesses that had been shut down by the IRS.

From 2016 through 2018, Ortiz and Cortes devised a scheme to file tax returns for unsuspecting taxpayers by filling out fraudulent Schedule C forms. These forms showed a business loss and allowed the taxpayers to obtain the Earned Income Tax credit, resulting in refunds that the taxpayers were not entitled to receive.

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Certified Taxes filed over 3,600 tax returns during the conspiracy, with only one return resulting in a taxpayer owing money to the IRS. The tax preparation business charged each taxpayer approximately $400 for the service, resulting in more than $1.2 million in tax preparation fees.

Harden claimed income of approximately $394,000 from Certified Taxes in the final year of operation, but due to a fraudulent Schedule C claiming expenses of $379,000 on her tax return, she was able to qualify for the Earned Income Tax credit and receive a refund of $6,375.

At sentencing, Harden and Cortes were ordered to repay the IRS $3.796 million in restitution for the fraudulent tax returns that generated refunds to which the taxpayers were not entitled.

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Certified Taxes did not provide the tax returns to the taxpayers to review or review the tax returns with the taxpayers before filing them with the IRS.

“Knowingly submitting false documents to the IRS is a crime,” said Ronald A. Loecker, IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge. “The defendants personally benefited from filing false tax returns for clients and yesterday’s sentence demonstrates that willfully interfering with the integrity of our nation’s tax system will result in fraudsters spending time in prison.”

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