FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – Federal agents have arrested three of four men in conjunction with a scheme to steal identity information and use it in the preparation and filing of fraudulent income tax returns to generate illegal refunds, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.
Evans Boamah, 30, of Elizabeth, N.J.; Alidu Dramani, 33, of Irvington, N.J.; and Thomas Donkor, 30, of Parlin, N.J., were arrested by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Secret Service agents. The were charged by Complaint with conspiracy to defraud the government, fraud and aggravated identity theft. A fourth man, Philip Appenteng, 27, of New York, remains at large.
The three defendants in custody are scheduled to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor this afternoon.
According to the Complaint:
Boamah and Dramani are employees of the North Jersey Developmental Center in Totowa, N.J., an institution operated by the State of New Jersey. Appenteng and Boamah allegedly provided stolen identity information in the form of three pages from a notebook containing 23 names, with Social Security numbers and dates of birth for each name. Records of the Social Security Administration (SSA) established that the Social Security numbers are identified with and connected to New York residents.
The alleged purpose and intent of providing the identity information was to prepare false federal income tax returns that fraudulently generated refunds. The stolen identity information was given to Donkor, a tax preparer, who was told the source of the identity information was a single individual. Donkor allegedly agreed to prepare fraudulent tax returns for the names given to him. Dramani provided a carbon copy list of 18 identities of people who, according to records of the SSA, are currently residing at the institution where Dramani and Boamah are employed. Boamah also provided eight deposit tickets and two blank checks for accounts at PNC bank in New Jersey and JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. The stated purpose of the blank checks was to identify the accounts and routing numbers to which the anticipated refunds should be directly deposited. An examination of these accounts has established that their exclusive function was to receive tax refunds from both federal and state governments and to purchase tax-preparation software. The claims connected to these accounts and made against the IRS totaled $87,250 on 14 tax returns filed for the 2011 tax year.
The charges of conspiracy to submit false claims against the United States and identity theft are punishable by a maximum potential prison term of 10 years and five years, respectively, and a fine of $250,000; the charge of aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory prison term of two years, which must be consecutive to the sentence on the other charges.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, and the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jacob Christine, with the investigation leading to today’s arrests.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorraine S. Gerson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.