Texas Man Convicted of Conspiring to File False Tax Returns with Stolen Identities Purchased on the Internet
A Grand Prairie, Texas, resident was found guilty yesterday of conspiring to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme to file false tax returns using stolen identities, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Scott W. Murray, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2011 through 2014, Emmanuel Akoto, also known as “Kofi,” purchased from third parties more than 560 stolen identities of other people and used the stolen identities to file false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These returns listed fake income and tax withholdings and sought fraudulent refunds, which Akoto and his co-conspirators loaded onto pre-paid debit cards. At one point, Akoto tried to purchase identities from a United States Secret Service undercover agent, asking through email how much it would cost to buy the “newest” identities. The wide-ranging conspiracy involved others in Texas, California, Georgia, and Ghana.
Akoto is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29, 2020 by U.S. District Judge Steven J. McAuliffe. Akoto faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and each wire fraud offense. He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. Akoto’s co-defendant, Jeffrey Quaye, pleaded guilty in July 2018 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his role in the scheme. Quaye is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 5, 2019.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Murray thanked special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigations and the Secret Service, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorney Sean Green, and Assistant United States Attorney Arnold Huftalen, who tried the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.