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Santa Barbara man accused of $12 million investment scam faces new tax evasion charges

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- The United States Department of Justice said that a Santa Barbara man charged in a $12 million investment scam is facing new charges for failing to pay millions of dollars in taxes.

On Mar. 3, 2022, the U.S. District Court said it received a superseding indictment charging Darrell Arnold Aviss, 64, for failing to pay over $3 million in federal income tax and concealing bank accounts in Monaco and used to hide ill-gotten gains.

The department said in addition to his $12 million scam charges, Aviss now also faces three counts of tax evasion, six counts of failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Aviss's original 11 charges include five counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering, according to the department.

The department said Aviss received these charges for operating a Ponzi scheme from around 2012 to 2020 that promised to invest victims's money in annuities from Swiss insurance companies.

Most of the victims involved in this scheme were over the age of 60 and gave Aviss more than $12 million, most of which came from just one victim according to the department.

Aviss's 11 charges are also included in today's indictment saying that he used none of the victim funds to buy annuities, according to the department.

Some of the funds were paid back to keep the scheme running, but the department said Aviss used the money for his own purposes such as up-keeping a lavish lifestyle.

The superseding indictment said that Aviss also defrauded the United States by failing to file tax returns for 2014, 2015 and 2016 and failing to pay any income taxes for those years, according to the department.

The department said that Aviss also failed to file with the Department of the Treasury Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts from 2015 through 2020 relating to accounts he controlled in Monaco.

The indictment accused Aviss of transferring the victim funds to these offshore accounts, one of which was established with information from an identity theft victim, according to the department.

The department said that Aviss is scheduled to go on trial on July 26, and he will be directed to appear for an arraignment on the indictment in the coming weeks.

If convicted of the charges in the indictment, the department said Aviss would face decades in federal prison.

For reference, the department said each of the five counts of wire fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

The department said the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are conducting the investigation in this case.

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Lily Dallow

Lily Dallow is a digital journalist and assignment editor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Lily, click here.

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