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Press Release

Defendant Gets 84 Months In Federal Prison For Using Personal Identifiers Of Deceased Individuals To File Fraudulent Tax Returns

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

            SALT LAKE CITY – Moussa Sleiman Bitar, aka Justizego, age 36, a naturalized U.S. citizen who is also a citizen of Lebanon, will serve 84 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false claims as a part of a scheme to use the personal identifiers of deceased individuals to file fraudulent tax returns.

            U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer also ordered Bitar to pay $843,561 in restitution and placed him on supervised release for 60 months following his prison sentence. The case against Bitar, investigated by special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, the FBI, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the West Valley City Police Department, was unsealed at sentencing in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City last week.

            Bitar admitted that from about January 2013 until about July 2013, he obtained the names, addresses, social security numbers, and other personal identifiers of deceased individuals and used the information to file false and fraudulent tax returns. Based on these fraudulent tax returns, the IRS sent refunds to bank accounts under Bitar’s control and the control of other individuals working with him.  Once the funds arrived, Bitar would withdraw the funds or have others working with him withdraw the funds or transfer the funds to him.  Funds were moved through banks in Utah. Prosecutors believe Bitar operated the scheme from Lebanon and other countries using individuals in Utah and other locations.

            According to court documents, on Jan. 22, 2013, Bitar transmitted an email with attachments containing personal identifiers of deceased individuals to be used to file a fraudulent tax return, including personal identifiers of L.T., a deceased individual.  On about April 4, 2013, he caused a fraudulent 1040 tax return, in the name of L.T., to be filed with the IRS claiming a tax return in the amount of $1,004, which he received. The scheme was in violation of federal wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false claims laws.

            “This significant federal prison sentence is appropriate for the egregious conduct committed by Mr. Bitar.  Using the personal identifiers of deceased individuals to steal money from American taxpayers is graphic example of the continued willingness of identity thieves to do whatever they can to obtain money or property that doesn’t belong to them,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today. “We recognize the outstanding work of the law enforcement agencies involved in this complex investigation.”

            "Investigating refund fraud and identity theft is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation," said John G. Collins, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Utah. "Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers and their families, especially those who have lost loved ones. This sentence should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct. Law enforcement is serious about investigating these crimes and holding those who defraud the government accountable."

            Bitar was charged in a federal indictment returned in June 18, 2014.  He was arrested in the Canary Islands on June 26, 2014, on a request from the United States for a provisional arrest.  A superseding indictment was returned on July 2, 2014. Bitar was turned over to U.S. Marshals custody after extradition proceedings, which he waived, and he was transported to the United States.

            As a part of the plea agreement reached with Bitar in Utah, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado will move to dismiss its indictment against Bitar as well as a supervised release violation.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan also has agreed not to seek an indictment against Bitar for a similar fraud scheme, however, Bitar was ordered to pay restitution for claims made in Michigan.

Updated October 29, 2015

Identity Theft