Georgia Resident Sentenced for Laundering Proceeds from a Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
Defendant Used Stolen Identification Information to Access “Get Transcript” Database and File False Returns
An Austell, Georgia, resident was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for his role in laundering proceeds from a stolen identity refund fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney John A. Horn of the Northern District of Georgia.
Rapheal Atebefia pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering on March 25. According to court documents, Atebefia and his co-conspirators obtained the means of identification of actual individuals, including their names and social security numbers, and used this information to access the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) “Get Transcript” database. The stolen names and the information obtained from Get Transcript were used to file false income tax returns. Atebefia’s co-conspirators obtained prepaid debit cards from stores located in multiple states and registered the cards in the names of the stolen identities. These debit cards were used to receive the income tax refunds requested on the false tax returns. To conceal this fraudulent scheme, the prepaid debit cards were then used to purchase money orders. Atebefia deposited the money orders into his bank accounts and then structured cash withdrawals of the proceeds in order to prevent the bank from filing Currency Transaction Reports.
In addition to the prison term, Atebefia was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $52,621 to the IRS. Atebefia’s co-defendants, Anthony and Sonia Alika, are scheduled to be sentenced on July 27.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Horn commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, who investigated the case and Trial Attorneys Michael C. Boteler and Charles M. Edgar Jr. of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Pearce, who are prosecuting this case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.