Tampa Man Arrested for Mail Fraud as Part of "Operation Rainmaker"
Tampa, FL - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces the arrest today of Nedal Ahmad (35, Tampa) on a criminal complaint charging him with mail fraud stemming from his participation in the negotiation of fraudulent federal tax refunds. If convicted, Ahmad faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The complaint also notifies Ahmad that the United States intends to forfeit more than $100,000 in U.S. currency and money orders, which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense.
According to the complaint, Ahmad negotiated fraudulent Treasury refund checks and reloadable debit cards containing fraudulently obtained tax refunds through his store, Empire Street Wear located at 1925 E. Fletcher Avenue in Tampa.
In one instance, in August 2011, a confidential informant ("CI") was supplied with three spurious U.S. Treasury checks. Each of the checks was issued in a different fictitious name. The CI, who was wearing a recording device, traveled to Empire Street Wear and met with Ahmad at the front of the store. After a brief conversation and without asking for identification, Ahmad agreed to negotiate the spurious U.S. Treasury checks (with a total value of $3,002.47) and keep the balances of each in exchange for giving the CI $500.00 in U.S. currency and a pair of men’s Nike Air Force 1 sneakers.
In September 2011, the U.S. Secret Service, together with other federal and local law enforcement agencies, executed a federal search warrant at Empire Street Wear. During the search, agents recovered $19,887 in cash, $58,306.40 in money orders, and $119,887 in U.S. Treasury checks that resulted from the filing of fraudulent tax returns, as well as personal checks, driver license images, and tax records.
According to the complaint, following the execution of the search at Empire, Ahmad reached out to an associate in New York and recruited him to cash Treasury checks for him. The associate, who worked as a confidential informant for the government, reported that Ahmad said he could send $100,000 per week in fraudulent Treasury checks. Ahmad further stated that if the friend/CI negotiated them, he could keep 40% and send the remaining 60% of the face value of each check back to Ahmad's bank account.Beginning in October 2011, Ahmad began sending fraudulent Treasury checks to the New York-based CI to be cashed. Ahmad sent the checks via the U.S. mail and other commercial interstate carriers.
A complaint is merely a charge that probable cause exists that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Tampa Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.
This case was prosecuted as part of Operation Rainmaker, a coordinated effort among the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida and various federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, IRS-CI, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tampa Police Department, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to combat the filing of false tax returns in the Tampa Bay region.