WASHINGTON – Ather Ali of Diamond Bar, Calif., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.
In December 2008, Ali and Haroon Amin of Upland, Calif., were indicted by a federal grand jury in Riverside, Calif., on charges of engaging in a scheme to file false returns with the IRS using the names and Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. Amin pleaded guilty on Jan. 25, 2010.
According to the indictment, in 2002 and 2003 Amin and Ali filed at least 250 fraudulent returns, falsely stating that these deceased individuals earned wages from which income tax was withheld. These false returns claimed more than $2 million in income tax refunds. 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. Most of these refund checks then were delivered overseas to be deposited in bank accounts in Armenia and Pakistan.
Ali admitted that he was a knowing participant in this scheme. According to the indictment and statements made at the plea hearing, Ali and his co-conspirators prepared various false tax returns using deceased people’s Social Security numbers and other identification information obtained from the Internet. The returns filed as part of the scheme had fictitious Form W-2 wage and tax statements as attachments, falsely stating that the deceased people earned income from various employers. Ali and his co-conspirators created fake W-2 Forms using employer identification numbers that they had obtained from an acquaintance of Amin’s, who was a certified public accountant. Ali admitted using fake forms of identification to open mailboxes in the names of deceased people, from which he collected a number of these fraudulently obtained tax refund checks.
Judge Robert H. Whaley scheduled Ali’s sentencing for June 22, 2010. Ali faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, commended the efforts of agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Laguna Niguel, Calif, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles E. Pell and Tax Division trial attorney Joseph A. Rillotta, who are prosecuting the case.
More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/tax.