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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

North Texas Man Sentenced To 87 Months In Federal Prison For Role In Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) Conspiracy

Defendant Also Ordered To Pay More Than $2.6 Million In Restitution

DALLAS — A North Texas man who pleaded guilty to his role in a stolen identity refund fraud conspiracy was sentenced yesterday, announced John Parker, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

Tonderai Sakupwanya was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $2.6 million in restitution. Sakupwanya, who is in custody, pleaded guilty in May 2014 to one count of theft of public funds.

Co-defendant Reminico Zhangazha, also in custody, pleaded guilty to the same offense and is awaiting sentencing. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could be ordered.

The plea agreements with the government note that the defendants will forfeit the following property seized by law enforcement in May 2012 during the investigation of this case: $10,613 cash seized from Zhangazha’s vehicle; $93,513 cash from Villa Piana Luxury Apartments on Noel Road in Dallas; and $4,500 from a residence on Spring Mountain in Plano, Texas.

According to the factual resumes filed in the case, Zhangazha and Sakupwanya engaged in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by obtaining stolen tax refunds that were generated by e-filing false and fraudulent income tax returns. They rented private mailboxes in the names of aliases by using forged United Kingdom passports. They then established bank accounts using the alias names and mailing addresses acquired at the private mailboxes. During the course of the scheme, Zhangazha used the aliases of “Martin V. Masters” and “Roy Daniel Black.” Sakupwanya used the aliases of “Webster G. Rice,” “Floyd Robbins,” and “Floyd Roberts,” during the scheme, according to the factual resume.

According to the factual resumes, the Forms 1040 directed the IRS to electronically deposit the refunds into bank accounts the defendants established. Alternatively, the Forms 1040 directed refunds to be issued by a treasury check and mailed to an address under the control of the defendants. The income tax returns also directed refunds to accounts established at a third-party financial services company, such as EPS Financial, that would enable them to issue a check containing the tax refund. These third party checks and the treasury checks were deposited into bank accounts the defendants established. After the checks were deposited, or the tax refunds were electronically deposited, the defendants would withdraw the funds for their own use and benefit. The factual resumes note that the cash, mentioned above, which was seized from the defendants during the investigation, was obtained by them as a result of their scheme.

The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Stokes is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated June 22, 2015