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Press Release

Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Deceased Persons' Identities to Gain $2.3 Million in State Tax Refunds

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

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Georgia man pleaded guilty in federal court today to a wire fraud scheme in which he used the identity information of deceased persons to obtain more than $2.3 million in tax refunds from several states.

Sirhon Rivers, also known as “Ron,” 40, of Georgia, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to one count of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

By pleading guilty today, Rivers admitted that he unlawfully obtained $547,000 from the Missouri Department of Revenue from January 2008 to August 2012 by filing fraudulent tax returns. Rivers used the same scheme in others states – including Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Virginia – to unlawfully acquire a total of $2,365,617 in fraudulent state tax refunds.

Rivers obtained personal identification information – including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth – from deceased persons. He submitted state tax returns using that information, adding false and fraudulent information such as employment and wages earned. State tax returns were submitted electronically, with the refunds electronically transferred to bank accounts that Rivers opened at several financial institutions.

Rivers must forfeit to the government $2,365,000, which constitutes the amount of money fraudulently received from the various states into his bank accounts.

Under federal statutes, Rivers is subject to a sentence of up to 60 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million and an order of restitution. Rivers is also subject to a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in federal prison without parole for aggravated identity theft. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez. It was investigated by the FBI, the Missouri Department of Revenue Criminal Tax Investigations Bureau and the Missouri Department of Revenue Compliance and Investigation Bureau.

Updated January 8, 2015