A 10-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday charging six people with various offenses related to a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of at least $1.7 million in fraudulently obtained tax returns, often filed in the names of recently deceased taxpayers, according to Justice Department press release released Wednesday.

According to the indictment, between April 15, 2009, to at least August 2011, Muaad Salem, Fahim Sulieman, Hanan Widdi, Najeh Widdi, Hazem Woodi and Daxesj Patel and other unknown co-conspirators allegedly defrauded the United States by filing false and fraudulent tax returns, many in the names of recently deceased taxpayers, and directing refunds to controlled locations in the state of Florida.

The indictment further alleges that the U.S. Treasury checks generated by the false and fraudulent returns would then be sent by the U.S. mail to co-conspirators in Ohio who would sell and distribute the checks for negotiation at various businesses and banking institutions.

The six are also charged with three counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. In addition to the other charges, Patel is separately charged with two counts of making a false claim against the United States and with making a false statement to law enforcement officials investigating the crimes.

This case contemplates a hybrid of alleged crimes centered around a financial scheme to defraud the IRS. Unknown to most taxpayers, the IRS has its own Criminal Investigation Unit responsible for investigating fraudulent tax crimes. The CI Unit is actually quite substantial, with twenty-six field offices and 2,800 special agents. Investigations are usually targeted at legal source tax crimes, illegal source financial crimes, and counter narcotics and terrorism crimes. The CI Unit works in conjunction with the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against a person or entity once the fraud is substantiated by documentary evidence, usually just by following the paper trail connected to the money.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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