News and Press Releases

Five Indicted for Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns with Stolen Identities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2012

RIVERSIDE, California – A Michigan man was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison for filming h

IRS Agents Arrest Three Defendants Charged in Scheme that Used Information
Allegedly Stolen by Former California Department of Social Service Employee

LOS ANGELES – Three Southland men were arrested this morning on federal charges for using stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns that each sought thousands of dollars in tax refunds.

The arrests were pursuant to a 17-count indictment that charges five defendants with conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false federal income tax returns. The fraudulent tax returns claimed the First Time Homebuyer Credit and/or the Earned Income Credit, even though the individuals on whose behalf the returns were filed did not authorize or know about the filing of the returns.

The three defendants arrested this morning are: Thomas Marshall, also known as “T-Mac,” 36, of Lancaster; Michael Williams, 41, formerly of Little Rock; and Mike Niko, 33, of Carson. All three defendants are expected to make their initial appearances this afternoon in United States District Court.

The other two defendants named in the indictment are: Veronica Niko, 35, of Lancaster, who has scheduled to make her court initial appearance on February 8; and Mao Niko, 39, formerly of Gardena, who is currently being sought by authorities.

The indictment alleges a scheme in which Veronica Niko allegedly stole names and social security numbers from the DPSS computer system. Marshall then gave the personal identifying information obtained from Veronica Niko and others to co-conspirators to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS, according to the indictment. The fraudulent returns claimed the First Time Homebuyer Credit and/or Earned Income Credit, earning defendants as much as $8,000 per return, even though the individuals
whose identities were used did not authorize or know about the filings.

Purporting to be tax preparers, Williams, Mao and Mike Niko established bank accounts to receive the fraudulently obtained refunds, which were used for their own personal benefit and as compensation for Marshall and other co-conspirators, according to the indictment.

All five defendants are charged in the conspiracy count. Marshall is additionally charged with seven counts of filing false claims with the IRS. Veronica Niko, a former employee of the California Department of Social Services (DPSS), is additionally charged with three counts of unauthorized access to a DPSS computer and three counts of unlawful disclosure of a social security number. Veronika Niko and Marshall also are charged with three counts of transfer/use of means of identification to commit
an unlawful activity.

If convicted of the various charges, the defendants would face sentences ranging from 10 years to 90 years in federal prison.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

“Identity theft can make honest taxpayers face a more difficult time obtaining their lawful refunds,” said Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS - Criminal Investigation in Los Angeles. “As more individuals fall victim to identity theft schemes, IRS - Criminal Investigation is increasing its efforts to uncover and investigate this type of fraud. This case demonstrates our ability to unravel sophisticated schemes in which conspirators work together, playing different roles and using multiple bank accounts, to
defraud the IRS and the most vulnerable American taxpayers.”

This investigation was conducted by special agents with IRS - Criminal Investigation.

Release No. 12-018

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