Identities of People on Public Assistance Stolen in Tax Fraud Scheme

A D.C. man was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme involving people on public assistance.

Ezekiel Raspberry participated in an extensive stolen identity refund fraud scheme that involved more than 130 people, according to prosecutors. Refunds were sought for tax years 2005 through 2012 in the names of senior citizens, people in assisted living facilities, drug addicts and prisoners whose identities had been stolen. Some refunds were sought in the names of people who were participants in the scheme.

More than 400 “taxpayer” addresses located in D.C., Maryland and Virginia were listed.

From September 2008 through November 2010, Raspberry, 39, conspired with others to file 145 fraudulent tax returns to defraud the IRS of $315,076, according to court documents. Raspberry received refund checks from a co-conspirator and deposited them into his bank account, then withdrew funds and gave them to the co-conspirator, keeping some of the money for himself.

The fraudulent tax returns included schedules C and C-EZ falsely claiming each “taxpayer” ran a fake business. The returns falsely said the “taxpayer” had gross receipts and two or more dependent children, when they actually either victims of identity theft, misled into providing his or her identifying information, or was in on the scheme.

Raspberry is one of 16 people who pleaded guilty to charges in U.S. District Court. The overall case involves at least 12,000 fraudulent federal income tax returns that sought refunds of at least $42 million, according to court documents.

Raspberry pleaded guilty Nov. 10 to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. with respect to claims.

Following his prison term, Raspberry will be placed on three years of supervised release where he must also complete 100 hours of community service. He also was ordered to pay $315,076 in restitution to the IRS.

Published: Identities of People on Public Assistance Stolen in Tax Fraud Scheme | NBC4 Washington


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