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Press Release

Ashburn Man Sentenced for Identity Theft and Filing False Tax Returns

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Kouame Innocent Tanoh, 53, of Ashburn, was sentenced today to 54 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, followed by three years of supervised release.  The defendant also was ordered to pay $671,760 in restitution and $651,769 in a forfeiture money judgment.

Tanoh pleaded guilty on April 24, 2015.  According to court documents, from around April 2008 through February 2015, Tanoh obtained individuals’ names and personal identifying information, including their Social Security numbers and dates of birth.  Tanoh acquired some of this information by holding himself out as being a legitimate tax return preparer, through a Virginia company called Alpha and Omega Financial Services.  Some of the individuals who provided their personal information to Tanoh were clients of this business.  Tanoh would then use their names and personal identifying information for several different purposes, including the preparation and filing of fraudulent federal and state tax returns that made false claims for tax refunds.  To increase the amount of the refund requested by the fraudulent returns, Tanoh would add items to the returns, including false dependents, false businesses on the taxpayer’s Schedule C, false education expenses, and false moving expenses.  The actual loss to the IRS and state departments of revenue as a result of the returns prepared and filed by Tanoh was over $650,000.

In addition to filing false tax returns, Tanoh also used other people’s identities, in part because he had no legal status to work or remain in the United States.  From at least 2009 through 2015, Tanoh used the names and personal identifying information of at least eight individuals to seek and obtain employment, housing, and other items of value, such as bank accounts.  To facilitate his use of these stolen identities, Tanoh would obtain false means of identification in the victims’ names, including driver’s licenses and Social Security cards.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington; David G. Bowers, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; John Phillips, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, Department of the Treasury, Office of the Inspector General; and Michael McGill, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Field Division of the Inspector General’s Office of the Social Security Administration, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine L. Wong is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-99.

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Updated February 4, 2016

Topics
Identity Theft
Tax