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Press Release

Three Individuals Indicted for Laundering Fraudulent Tax Refunds Using Stolen Identities

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA – Anthony Alika, Sonia Alika, and Rapheal Atebefia, all residents of Austell, Georgia, have been indicted for laundering fraudulent tax refunds using stolen identities.  The charges include money laundering, conspiracy to money launder, structuring monetary transactions, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

“These defendants allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds using stolen identities,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn.  “Stolen-identity tax return fraud unfortunately is a growing problem, and the perpetrators are becoming more sophisticated at concealing the proceeds of their crimes.”

“A vital element in this investigation was following the flow of money being received by the defendants in order to determine the true source of the funds,” stated Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge.  “These defendants conduct cost the U.S. Treasury thousands of dollars, and IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to utilize every tool necessary to unravel financial transactions related to fraudulently obtained tax refunds and the theft of innocent individual’s identities.”

“This investigation was an excellent example of a partnership between federal law enforcement agencies working together to dismantle a fraud conspiracy,” said Thomas Noyes II, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division.  “I fully commend the hard work and countless hours put forth by all agencies involved including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which resulted in bringing the individuals in this case to justice.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court:  The indictment charges that these defendants conspired together to launder the proceeds from a stolen identity refund fraud scheme, according to allegations in the indictment.  It is alleged that the defendants and others obtained 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. 

Anthony Alika, Atebefia and others are also alleged to have obtained prepaid debit cards from stores located in multiple states, registered the cards in the names of the stolen identities and then filed false income tax returns using the stolen identities and directed the IRS to deposit the tax refunds onto these cards.  To conceal their fraud, Anthony Alika, Atebefia and others allegedly used the prepaid debit cards to purchase money orders, which Anthony Alika, Sonia Alika and Atebefia deposited into bank accounts and then structured cash withdrawals of the proceeds in order to prevent the bank from filing Currency Transaction Reports.   

Anthony Alika, 42, Sonia Alika, 27, and Rapheal Atebefia, 33, all of Austell, Georgia, were indicted by a federal grand jury on January 5, 2016.  Atebefia was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker. 

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges.  The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

DOJ Criminal Tax Division Trial Attorneys Michael Boteler and Charles Edgar, Jr., and Assistant United States Attorney Shanya J. Dingle are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Updated January 12, 2016

Topic
Financial Fraud