Ex-IRS agent sentenced for $8M securities scam

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? A former IRS agent was sentenced Monday to nearly three years in federal prison for his role in a securities fraud scheme that bilked hundreds of people across the U.S. out of more than $8 million.

A federal judge sentenced George Tannous, 55, of Lake View Terrace, to 33 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay roughly $8.8 million in restitution to more than 200 victims.

Tannous pleaded guilty in May 2008 to one count each of conspiracy and subscription to a false tax return.

Tannous solicited people to purchase unregistered stock through his company Bidbay.com, which developed and marketed an Internet auction website, according to court documents. People were lured to the company by promises it was going to be acquired by eBay.

Tannous didn’t tell investors that Bidbay and related companies paid sales commissions of up to 50 percent to telemarketers who solicited investors, authorities said. He failed to tell people that one of the people who helped him with his business was a felon awaiting sentencing in an unrelated fraud case.

Tannous received nearly $3 million in investor funds in 2001 but didn’t report the proceeds to the IRS, authorities said.