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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pennsylvania Man Arrested For Passing Counterfeit Checks And Conspiring To Steal $3.3 Million Tax Refund From Fraudulent Tax Return

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and William Cheung, the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), announced today the arrest of STEPHEN SHERAK in connection with a scheme to fraudulently deposit checks in various national banks, including a $3.3 million corporate tax refund check that SHERAK had fraudulently obtained.  SHERAK was arrested this morning and will be presented today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Stephen Sherak deposited thousands of dollars’ worth of counterfeit checks into accounts for his own use.  Additionally, Sherak allegedly caused the filing of a falsified tax return that resulted in a $3.3 million fraudulent refund.  Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the NYPD and the IRS, Sherak will now have to answer for his alleged dishonest acts.” 

IRS-CI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge William Cheung said:  “Filing false tax returns to receive a fraudulent tax refund steals from all Americans.  IRS-CI Special Agents will investigate and bring these perpetrators to justice.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint sworn out today in Manhattan federal court:[1]

From 2017 through June 2018, SHERAK deposited or attempted to deposit in several national banks approximately $270,000 worth of checks he knew to be counterfeit or that otherwise would not clear due to insufficient funds.

In addition, from February 2018 through May 2018, SHERAK caused the filing of a fraudulent corporate tax return for an entity SHERAK incorporated and controlled, Gavnet, Inc., by falsely claiming that his company had prepaid millions of dollars in taxes and was therefore owed a tax refund.  Upon receiving a tax refund check in the amount of approximately $3.3 million, SHERAK worked with others to open new bank accounts at a number of different financial institutions in order to deposit the refund check, before the fraud was ultimately detected.

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SHERAK, 41, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government funds, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The statutory maximum penalties in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Mortazavi is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
Updated September 18, 2018