Two Convicted in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
|March 17, 2014|
HOUSTON – Linus Davar Riggs, 32, and Nowell Joshua Cousin, 31, both of Houston, have been convicted of filing fraudulent tax returns using identification information that was either stolen or used without lawful authority, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Riggs entered a guilty plea today, while Cousin entered his plea March 10, 2014. Both were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the U.S.
According to court records, the defendants used personal identifying information, including names and Social Security numbers, to file at least 266 fraudulent tax returns claiming approximately $1,296,710 in refunds. According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) records, the government paid out approximately $544,846 before Riggs and Cousin were arrested and the scheme discovered. The tax refunds generated by the fraudulent returns were often deposited onto reloadable debit cards and mailed to addresses under control of the conspirators.
Both face up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud as well as 10 years on the conspiracy to submit false claims. Both convictions also carry a potential $250,000 fine.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, who accepted the pleas, has set sentencing for Riggs June 16, while Cousin will be sentenced May 27, 2014. Cousin will remain in custody, while Riggs was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
The matter was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney James R. Buchanan is prosecuting.