WASHINGTON – Haroon Amin of Upland, Calif., and Ather Ali of Diamond Bar, Calif., were arrested yesterday on charges that they conspired to defraud the United States, made various false claims for income tax refunds, and made and subscribed false income tax returns, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. A federal grand jury in Riverside, Calif., returned a 50-count indictment charging the two men on December 3, 2008.
According to the indictment, Amin and Ali, together with other co-conspirators, engaged in a scheme to file false returns with the IRS using the names and Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. The indictment alleges that in 2002 and 2003 the two men filed at least 250 such returns, falsely stating that these deceased people earned wages from which income tax was withheld. The indictment asserts that these false returns claimed more than $2 million in income tax refunds.
The indictment further alleges that, although the IRS rejected the bulk of these refund claims, a number of refund checks were issued and delivered to addresses controlled by Amin, Ali and their co-conspirators, including various mailboxes opened by Ali using false forms of identification. According to the indictment, most of these refund checks then were delivered overseas to be deposited in bank accounts in Armenia and Pakistan.
The indictment alleges that Amin and Ali prepared these false tax returns using deceased people’s Social Security numbers and other identification information obtained from the Internet. The indictment asserts that attached to these returns were fictitious Form W-2 wage and tax statements, stating that the deceased people earned income from various employers. It is alleged that Amin and Ali created the false W-2 Forms using employer identification numbers that Amin had obtained from an acquaintance who was a certified public accountant. Amin and Ali are charged in the indictment with conspiracy for their participation in this scheme.
Amin also is charged with 22 counts of making false claims against the United States. These counts correspond to allegations in the indictment that Amin made 22 claims for income tax refunds using the names and Social Security numbers of deceased people. Amin also is charged with making and subscribing a false tax return in his own name. The indictment alleges that this return similarly included a false W-2 Form reporting wage income that Amin in fact never earned and falsely claimed a tax refund.
Ali is charged with 25 counts of making false claims against the United States. According to the indictment, these counts correspond to claims for income tax refunds made by Ali using the names and Social Security numbers of deceased people. In addition, Ali is charged with making and subscribing a false tax return in his own name. The indictment alleges that this return contained a bogus W-2 Form reporting wage income that Ali never earned and also maked a false refund claim.
"The government is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who seek to defraud the government through tax schemes and scams," said Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
"Refunds are issued to taxpayers who are entitled to them," said Eileen Mayer, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Chief. "The IRS and Department of Justice will continue to aggressively pursue those who file false tax returns to claim refunds for which they are not entitled."
If convicted, the defendants face the following maximum penalties: for conspiracy, five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine; for each count of presenting false claims, five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine; and for making and subscribing a false tax return, three years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
This case is being prosecuted by Tax Division trial attorney Joseph A. Rillotta and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles E. Pell. This case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division office in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
An indictment is merely a formal charge by the grand jury. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/tax.