Atlanta Man Charged in Nationwide Identity Theft Scheme
Shabazz Deceived Prisoners into Applying for “Prisoner Benefits” and Used Their Information to Seek Over $12 Million in False Tax Refunds
ATLANTA - Qadir Shabazz had his initial appearance today on federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and theft of government funds.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This defendant is charged with concocting a scheme that used the identities of inmates in prisons across the country to file fraudulent tax returns that in total sought millions of dollars in tax refunds. With the tax filing season rapidly approaching, identity thieves like him should be aware that there are severe consequences for those who seek to steal government funds using stolen identities.”
“Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” stated Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, IRS Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office. “We, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office, will continue to do our part in protecting the sanctity and integrity of the tax system and those individuals whose identities were stolen.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to bringing to justice those who use the U.S. mail to commit identity theft and defraud the government of money that rightfully belongs to taxpayers,” said George Frazier, Assistant Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: From November 2009 through May 2012, Shabazz orchestrated a nationwide scheme to file thousands of false and fraudulent federal income tax returns that claimed millions of dollars in fraudulent refunds. Shabazz, and others conspiring with him, operated a business named “Indigent Inmate” in the state of Georgia. Working through Indigent Inmate, Shabazz distributed literature and applications to prisoners located in incarceration facilities throughout the United States. Prisoners were told that if they submitted their names, social security numbers, and dates of birth to Indigent Inmate they would be eligible for prisoner benefits. As a result, prisoners submitted over 13,000 applications to Indigent Inmate seeking these benefits.
Shabazz, and others working with him, used the prisoners’ personal information to file over 2,000 false federal income tax returns that claimed over $12,000,000 in fraudulent refunds. These tax returns listed addresses in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee that were under the control of Shabazz and others working with him.
Shabazz, 38, of Atlanta, Georgia, was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 5, 2013. The indictment charges one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, 15 counts of wire fraud, 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of theft of government funds. Each wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, each theft of government funds count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and the conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years of incarceration. The aggravated identity theft charges carry at least one mandatory two-year consecutive sentence to any other sentence imposed. Each count also carries a fine of up to $250,000. The United States is also seeking the forfeiture of all funds derived from or involved in this scheme.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Georgia Department of Revenue, Office of Special Investigations. The Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Office of Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Bureau of Criminal Tax Investigations uncovered this scheme and launched a separate state investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas J. Krepp and Mary L. Webb are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.