NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A Suffolk woman as pleaded guilty on Tuesday for her role in a fraud scheme that resulted in a loss of about $1.6 million to the United States.

Stephanie Towns, 43, was one of the principle tax preparers at A Plus Tax Service and NN Financial. Both places operated as a tax preparation business at different periods between July 2009 and February 2014.

Towns, and codefendants Brenda Benn and Kevin Towns conspired to operate the business based on creating false tax returns.

They would give their clients inflated refunds in order to cultivate good will and generate repeat business.

They used methods such as claiming false education-related expenses, stating excessively high amounts of charitable contributions, and manipulating the amount of income to take advantage of certain tax credits.

The customers did not persuade or instruct the tax preparers to falsify their returns.

Towns pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding the preparation of a false tax return. She faces a maximum penalty of 8 years in prison when sentenced on September 27.