Police: CPA Defrauds Businesses Of Millions With Fake ‘Tax Payments’

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO (CBSLA.com) — A woman befriended then stole millions of dollars from several small business owners in Orange County, claiming she was a CPA, authorities said.

The mom apparently used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, from plastic surgery to expensive trips and more.

“You feel stupid,” said Mike Cochrane, who lost his Irvine printing business and nearly his home. He said it was because of the 34-year-old Orange County mom and wife who gained his trust and even befriended his mom and dad before his dad died. Then she took him and his parents for over a quarter million dollars.

“She stung my family,” said Cochrane.

Court records show Elizabeth Mulder targeted six small business owners across Orange County, bilking them for over $1 million.

Police said she claimed to be a certified public accountant with a thriving business. When she did their taxes, she had them make out checks to her own account, boldly calling it “income tax payments.”

“She took all the tax payments and cashed them. Put them in her own bank account,” recalled Cochrane. “That was her scam.”

Police said Mulder posed as tax collectors to get victims to pay her.

The victims said they are on the hook for the debt and that it will take them years to settle with the IRS.

Mulder is expected to enter a guilty plea in federal court Monday. She faces up to 23 years in prison. Her attorney told CBS2/KCAL9’s Stacey Butler that she is sorry and regrets what she did.

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