Two Lansing "Homeless IRS Scam" Defendants Get Prison Time
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Two additional defendants connected to a Lansing, Michigan area family-run tax scam were sentenced in federal court, U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced today. Defendant Ruqayya Aida Abdul-Hakim was sentenced to a term of 72 months (six years) in prison, three years of supervised release and restitution in the amount of $707,444.73. Ms. Abdul-Hakim admitted filing 587 false federal tax returns during a two year time period. Defendant Imran Dawood Ibn-Abdurrahim was sentenced to a term of 54 months (four and a half years) in prison, three years of supervised release and restitution in the amount of $254,142.60. Mr. Ibn-Abdurrahim admitted filing 200 false federal tax returns.
In earlier hearings, defendant Tsiidzoyedu Callista Chiwocha, the mother of Ruqayya Aida Abdul-Hakim and Imran Dawood Ibn-Abdurrahim, was sentenced to a term of incarceration of 12 months plus one day for filing false tax returns; and, Qasim Ibn-Ishaq Verser was sentenced to a term of 36 months of incarceration for filing false tax returns. Mr. Verser’s federal sentence will be served consecutively to his state felony drug-trafficking convictions. And in an earlier prosecution, Taka Chiwocha-Crowell pled guilty to filing false tax returns and was sentenced to 42 months’ incarceration. Two additional co-defendants still face federal charges in this district for this same alleged tax scheme; they remain innocent until proven guilty.
The tax scheme involved deceiving citizens into providing their personal identification information by promising them "free stimulus money." Many of the victims in this case were homeless persons or suffered from addiction and disability issues. The tax returns typically contained false reporting of undocumented income and abusive use of the Earned Income credit. Complaints by local citizens prompted the FBI to open a criminal investigation, including obtaining multiple search warrants to seize evidence of a tax fraud scheme. During the multi-year investigation, more than fifty subpoenas were issued to track down the tax refunds which had been paid into numerous bank accounts. In some instances, the personal identification information was used to file a tax return in a successive year.
"My office has no tolerance for those who take advantage of the trust of the vulnerable only to scam the system and line their own pockets," stated U.S. Attorney Miles. He was joined in the announcement by Jarod J. Koopman, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division.
The investigation was conducted by the Lansing Office of the FBI and the Lansing Office of IRS Criminal Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. MacDonald.