According to a Department of Justice press release, Josiah Ntekume, of Las Vegas, Nevada, recently pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, identity theft, access device fraud, and theft of government property. The charges were related to a larger tax fraud scheme involving stolen identities. As we move closer to tax season, it is important for tax preparers and taxpayers alike to reflect on the measures that they are taking to keep their information safe and that if a taxpayer seeks out the assistance of a tax professional for tax preparation or other tax advice, that such tax professional is reputable and trustworthy.
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Court documents reveal that Ntekume was not a tax preparer and did not claim to be. Instead, investigators discovered that he devised a scheme to illegally obtain taxpayer identities and use the corresponding information to file tax returns with the intent to obtain fraudulent refunds. Ntekume and those he worked with obtained names, dates of birth, addresses, and social security numbers and used such information to open prepaid debit card accounts.
Ntekume and his associates caused false tax returns to be filed and the federal tax refunds, which were also fraudulently obtained to be loaded onto the fraudulently opened prepaid debit cards. Ntekume and those he conspired with gained access to the funds using the debit cards at point-of-sale locations.
Upon his arrest, a search of Ntekume revealed that he was carrying over 250 prepaid debit cards with over $200,000 of falsely obtained tax refunds loaded onto them. The defendant also had a list of those that he defrauded, in his possession at the time of the search and booking.
Sentencing is scheduled for early next year. Ntekume faces up to 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge, ten years in prison for each of the theft of government property and fraud in connection with access devices counts. Lastly, he faces a mandatory sentence of two years for each count of aggravated identity theft. Ntukeme will also likely be sentenced to serve an additional term of supervised release after his prison sentence is completed. Lastly, he will likely be ordered to pay restitution to the government and/or his victims.
In the story above, taxpayers did not seek out the defendant for tax services. Instead, the defendant actively stole personal taxpayer information and used it to benefit himself. To help prevent situations like this from affecting you, it is critical to take steps to protect your personal and sensitive information. But as tax season approaches, many Americans will approach tax preparers and provide them with nearly every piece of sensitive financial and identifying information for the year. It is critically important to be able to trust your tax preparer and any other tax, legal, or financial professional with your sensitive and personal information.
In addition to tax refund scams, there are plenty of other tax-related scams targeting taxpayers, including fake phone calls claiming that criminal charges are being processed and the taxpayer will be arrested if they do not return the telephone call. In such cases, it is important to trust your instincts and consult with a tax defense attorney’s office whenever you feel like you may be in actual danger of a tax audit or investigation.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have worked with individuals and business owners of companies ranging in size from mom and poo to middle market. If you have received notice from the IRS or state taxing authorities that your individual or business tax returns are being scrutinized, our team of zealous advocates will help you develop a legal strategy aimed at preserving the integrity of you and your business. Do not let the threat of a criminal investigation or prosecution keep you up at night. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today for a reduced-rate consultation.
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