Citizen of Zimbabwe Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud Conspiracy
WILMINGTON, Del. - Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that Tendayi Mandere, a citizen of Zimbabwe, pled guilty today to violations of 18 USC § 286 (False Claims Conspiracy) and 18 USC § 1028A(a)(1) (Aggravated Identity Theft). Mandere will be sentenced on August 22, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. by the Honorable Richard G. Andrews, United States District Judge for the District of Delaware. For his violation of 18 USC § 286, Mandere faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release. His violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1) carries a mandatory two year term of imprisonment consecutive to any other term of incarceration, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a maximum of 3 years of supervised release.
According to statements made at the plea hearing and documents filed in court, the defendant participated in a tax fraud conspiracy involving the filing of more than 130 false individual federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. The defendant obtained the names and social security numbers of real individuals from his co-conspirators, and he used them to electronically file false tax returns via the Internet. The defendant fabricated the wage and withholding information on the returns, which sought refunds of more than $600,000. Most of these fraudulent returns were rejected by the Internal Revenue Service. As part of the defendant’s plea agreement, he agreed that he was responsible to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of at least $114,000, the amount obtained by the defendant and his co-conspirators during the course of the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Oberly gave the following comments: “I want to specifically extend thanks to the IRS and its agents who work so diligently ferretting and developing evidence allowing my office to prosecute tax cheats. Tax fraud is a huge problem, and all of us who work and pay our taxes are victims. These cases are of particular interest to me and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”
“Investigating refund fraud and identity theft is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation," said Akeia Conner, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Field Office. “Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers. Today’s plea should serve as a strong deterrent to those who are considering similar conduct. Law enforcement is serious about investigating these crimes and holding to account those who would defraud the government.”
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lauren Paxton and Jennifer Hall.