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Press Release

Man Sentenced For Multi-Million Dollar Tax Fraud Conspiracy, Aggravated Identity Theft And Attempting To Obstruct A Federal Investigation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

Christopher Gilmer, 44, formerly of Belleville, Illinois, was sentenced in federal court today for Conspiracy to Defraud the Internal Revenue Service By Submitting False Federal Tax Returns to Make False Claims for Tax Refunds, Aggravated Identity Theft in Using a Social Security Number of Another during and in Relation to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud in Submitting False Tax Returns, and attempted Obstruction of Grand Jury Investigation into the Conspiracy to Defraud the Internal Revenue Service by Submitting False Federal Tax Returns to Make False Claims for Tax Refunds, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced. Gilmer was sentenced to a total of 104 months in prison, three years of supervised release to follow, an order of restitution in the amount of $56,101,556, and a special assessment fee of $300.

The prosecution is the result of information from an ongoing federal investigation of a conspiracy to obtain the payment of false and fraudulent federal income tax refunds utilizing stolen identities. The IRS utilizes databases to research possible tax refund fraud schemes. The IRS linked tax returns based on wage amounts, federal tax withholding amounts, bank accounts, employers, email addresses and other factors which revealed a tax refund scheme. The scheme involved the preparation of fraudulent federal tax returns for the years 2010, 2011, and 2012, which were filed during the 2011, 2012, and 2013 tax filing seasons.

“This nationwide tax refund fraud scheme consists of thousands of falsified tax returns, which claimed millions in fraudulent tax refunds. The total amount of the fraudulent federal tax refunds sought exceeds $150 million dollars.” noted United States Attorney Wigginton. “These fraudsters are stealing from every lawful citizen in the United States. Stiff prison terms will help to end these thefts.”

Some of the refunds were stopped by the I.R.S. All of the tax returns were electronically filed. The first tax return filed in this tax refund fraud scheme was filed on or about March 23, 2011 and the last tax return filed was on or about March 16, 2013. The fraudulent refunds were credited to prepaid debit cards created using stolen identities. People in the United States, including Christopher Gilmer, received the prepaid debit cards and withdrew a portion of the funds utilizing Western Union to electronically wire the funds to other co-conspirators in Nigeria. Following the execution of a federal search warrant at a hotel room in Belleville, Illinois, where Christopher Gilmer was staying, Christopher Gilmer notified a co-conspirator in Nigeria and advised him of the federal investigation.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with the assistance of the Belleville Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith.

To report criminal tax fraud, call I.R.S. Criminal Investigations at (618) 622-2160, or send the information to the Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888.

Updated February 19, 2015