Local Man Pleads Guilty To Aggravated Identity Theft, Used Deceased Children’s Identities To File False Income Tax Returns
CINCINNATI, OHIO – Christopher K. Smith, 28, of Cincinnati, Ohio, pleaded guilty one count of aggravated identity theft relative to filing false federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) using the stolen identities belonging to deceased individuals, including children. Smith faces a mandatory prison term of two years and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the amount of the gain or loss.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, announced the guilty plea entered before U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett.
According to court documents, between February 2012 and June 2012 Christopher Smith electronically submitted at least five false income tax returns to the IRS for the 2011 income tax year using at least ten stolen identities, all but one of which belonged to deceased individuals, including children. Smith attempted to file at least three more false income tax returns using nine other stolen identities, but these returns were rejected by the IRS.
Smith prepared and filed the false income tax returns in Fairfield, Ohio. The income tax returns contained fabricated information as it related to the taxpayer, including addresses, dependents, occupations, income amounts and education expenses. The inclusion of this false information often qualified the taxpayer listed on the return to receive the Earned Income Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit and Education Credit, which resulted in even greater refund amounts.
Smith primarily used the stolen identities of deceased persons-using the names and Social Security numbers of adults as the taxpayers and the names and Social Security numbers of children as the dependents. He further indicated on the returns that the children had passed away during the tax year. In at least four instances, including his own 2011 tax return, Smith had to change the names and Social Security numbers used as dependents on each return, until they were accepted by the IRS, as some of the victims' information had already been sent to the IRS.
Smith prepared and electronically submitted a false federal income tax return using his own name as a taxpayer and the stolen identity of an individual, falsely claiming the stolen identities of this individual’s daughter and son. This then allowed him to falsely qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit. Smith claimed, and received on a prepaid debit card, a fraudulent refund in the amount of $7,482. Both the children’s identities were those of children who had died in 2011. Neither of the children’s parents had given Smith permission to use their child’s Social Security number of claim their child on his tax return.
The total intended loss for this scheme was $41,522. For restitution purposes, Smith owes the IRS $9,344.
Smith was detained, and a sentencing date is yet to be scheduled.
“Identity theft, especially involving the use stolen identities of deceased individuals and children, is a contemptible modern-day scourge,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft with this degree of trickery, dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the investigation by IRS and Assistant United States Attorney Jessica W. Knight, who is prosecuting this case.