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Press Release

Second Defendant Pleads Guilty In Tax Rebate Scam

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

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA -- For the second time this week, one of three individuals charged with conspiracy and fraud charges related to a scheme to profit from fraudulent United States Treasury checks has pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke.

Thursday in District Court, Khaldoun Khalil Khawaja, 47, of Wesley Chapel, Fla., pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States: buy, sell, exchange treasury checks bearing forged endorsements and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Earlier this week, Muawua Khalil Abdeljalil, 43, of Roanoke, Va., pled guilty to the same two charges as Khawaja, plus an additional count of structuring. A third defendant, Osama Mahmud Mustafa, has not yet been brought to trial.

“Mr. Khawaja conspired with two other men to negotiate fraudulent income tax refund checks and provided a market for the fraudulent checks,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “Stolen identity refund fraud is an emerging problem, one we will continue to prioritize. We will vigorously pursue all forms of fraud against the federal government and do what we can to hold those who commit these crimes accountable.”

“Today’s result is a tribute to strong multi-agency investigative work and efforts to eradicate this type of fraudulent scheme,” said Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Division.

“Return preparer fraud is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation and we have committed many resources to investigating and prosecuting cases just like these,” said Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington DC Field Office. “Today's plea hearing is a reminder that individuals who scheme to defraud the U.S. Government by submitting false claims for profit will be brought to justice.”

The defendants have admitted to purchasing fraudulent income tax return checks and then presenting those fraudulent checks for payment at financial institutions in the Western District of Virginia, the Middle District of Florida and elsewhere.

In all, the defendants fraudulently deposited more than $17.5 million as a result of the scheme.

At sentencing, Khawaja faces up to 25 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $750,000. Abdeljalil faces up to 40 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,250,000 on these charges and an additional marriage fraud count charged in a separate indictment.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the United States Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Program, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) The United States Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia coordinated the prosecutions of the income tax refund fraud cases. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Mott of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated April 14, 2015