Tax Fraudsters are Still at it The Old Fashioned Way Too
ATLANTA – Last week Attorney General Eric Holder warned U.S. taxpayers to beware a “rising threat” of scammers seeking fraudulent federal tax refunds based on stolen identities, which he described as an “increasingly urgent problem.” He should know. Attorney General Holder has been the victim of identity theft himself.
“Tax cheats come in many different stripes,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Some steal identities and use them to file fraudulent tax returns, while others file fraudulent tax returns in their own name. Either way, all hardworking citizens who pay their own fair share of taxes are the victims. As the tax filing deadline nears, we want to remind members of our community that we will investigate and prosecute tax fraud in all its various forms.”
Indeed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has prosecuted over 20 individuals over the last 12 months for so-called Stolen Identity Refund Fraud. These cases charge individuals who use third-party personal information – names, social security numbers, and dates of birth – to file false federal tax returns for refunds. Many times the victims, whose information is taken through internet scams or from public sources, do not realize that their identity has been stolen until they try to file a tax return of their own with the IRS, only to learn that someone else has already filed a tax return in their name.
"These unscrupulous defendants thought they had devised clever schemes to thwart the IRS and steal from American taxpayers" stated Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot. “As the defendants in these cases have learned, stealing from the American people will not be tolerated and you will be held accountable. IRS Criminal Investigation, along with its law enforcement and Department of Justice partner's, will continue to actively investigate those individuals who prey on unsuspecting victims and try to undermine the integrity of the U.S. tax system."
“These cases affirm that the Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting all types of tax fraud,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division Kathryn Keneally. “I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their diligent efforts to fight tax fraud, and we in the Tax Division will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring tax cheats to justice.”
In addition to Stolen Identity Refund Fraud prosecutions, federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Georgia, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, continue to investigate and prosecute more “traditional” tax fraud cases, where individuals are charged with fraudulently filing tax returns of their own.
Current tax prosecutions include the following:
- Earlier this week, Kenneth and Kimberly Horner of Conyers, Ga., were arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill on an indictment that charges them with four counts of filing false personal and corporate tax returns for the years 2007 and 2008. The indictment alleges that the Horners, who owned and operated Topcat Towing and Recovery, Inc., materially underreported gross receipts or sales and total income on their corporate and personal tax returns, respectively.
- On April 29, 2014, Amberula Levitt, of East Point, Ga., is scheduled to be sentenced following her guilty plea in October 2013, to willfully filing false tax returns. According to the indictment and other information presented in court, Levitt operated Tax Time Tax Service (“Tax Time”), a tax preparation business with multiple locations throughout metro Atlanta. Levitt fraudulently under-reported the earnings from Tax Time on her personal tax returns. For the years 2004 through 2009, Levitt owes approximately $620,000 in back taxes to the IRS.
- On March 6, 2014, DeMarco Doxie of Peachtree City, Ga., was arraigned on a superseding indictment charging him with multiple wire and mail fraud counts, and four counts of filing false tax returns for the years 2008 through 2011. The indictment alleges that from June 2007 through August 2011 Doxie defrauded his employer by creating a fictitious company that he then used to submit to his employer numerous fraudulent invoices for payment. The indictment further charges that Doxie materially underreported his income on his personal income tax returns from 2008-2011.
And as an example of the long memory federal law enforcement can have, Ali Ibrahim, formerly of Tucker, Georgia, pled guilty on February 5, 2014 to federal tax evasion for underreporting his taxable income on his 1990 tax return. Ibrahim became a fugitive from justice following his indictment in January 2001, only to be arrested and extradited from Canada almost 13 years later in December 2013. Ibrahim was sentenced on March 26, 2014 to a time served sentence of approximately 18 months.
Members of the public are reminded that indictments only contain charges. A 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.
These cases are being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
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 home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.