News and Press Releases

Four Men Arrested and Detained in IRS Investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2013

Arrests are Part of IRS’s Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) Initiative

DALLAS — Four individuals remain in federal custody on charges related to their involvement in a scheme to obtain and use stolen identities to steal federal income tax refunds. The four men, Michael Hutchinson Agu, 38, of Murphy, Texas; Benjamin Kinyua, 34, of Plano, Texas; Thomas Nganga Muya, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Harry Fabrice Cheickh Amont, 29, of Lithonia, Georgia; were arrested in an operation conducted by special agents with Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). They have all made their initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge, where identifying information was provided, and have been detained pending further order of the Court. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Agu and Kinyua are each charged, in separate complaints, with identity theft, theft of government funds and aiding and abetting. A separate complaint charges Muya and Amont with theft of government funds and aiding and abetting.

According to the affidavits filed with the complaints, in recent years, identification theft schemes have become more sophisticated, more prevalent and increasingly more popular with criminals as a way to obtain illegal funds with little risk of detection or prosecution. Identification theft schemes often involve a network of individuals needed to complete different stages or aspects of the scheme. The affidavits further note that often perpetrators of identity theft cases are securing false identities, filing false tax returns, securing false tax refunds and moving on within days or weeks. Many of the ID theft schemes involve foreign nationals operating within and outside of the U.S, according to the affidavits.

According to the affidavits filed with the complaints, in recent years, identification theft schemes have become more sophisticated, more prevalent and increasingly more popular with criminals as a way to obtain illegal funds with little risk of detection or prosecution. Identification theft schemes often involve a network of individuals needed to complete different stages or aspects of the scheme. The affidavits further note that often perpetrators of identity theft cases are securing false identities, filing false tax returns, securing false tax refunds and moving on within days or weeks. Many of the ID theft schemes involve foreign nationals operating within and outside of the U.S, according to the affidavits.

The complaints outline the fencing of stolen IRS refund checks, including a United States Treasury check for an IRS refund in the amount of almost $600,000 that was were obtained using stolen identification information. The defendants worked as brokers or check cashers –cashing these checks for a percent of their face value.

A federal criminal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged, and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The U.S. Attorney’s office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment. The penalty, upon conviction, for the charged offense of identity theft is 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The penalty, upon conviction, for the charged offense of theft of government funds is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

IRS-CI is investigating. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Stokes is in charge of the prosecution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Top