Published: Dec 17, 2013 11:30 AM EST

NORTH PORT, Fla.- James Dee Jaeger, 62, and Lora Anne Jaeger, 50, have been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and seven counts of causing false and fraudulent claims for tax refunds to be filed with the IRS.

According to the indictment, the Jaegers devised and participated in a scheme to help “taxpayers,” including themselves, obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the IRS. The scheme was premised upon the “redemption theory,” which is a fraudulent notion that individuals are not responsible for their common personal debt obligations, such as home mortgages, unpaid credit card bills, and lines of credit, and may instead seek money from the IRS to repay these outstanding obligations.

Collectively, at least fifteen tax returns were filed as part of the scheme, seeking refunds totaling $2,583,207.70. The indictment further alleges that the Jaegers instructed taxpayers on how to conceal fraudulent tax refunds and how to frustrate the lawful collection efforts of the IRS.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

If convicted on all counts, each faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge and five years’ imprisonment for each false claim charge.