Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tanzanian Charged in Tax Fraud Scheme Targeting More Than 600 Victims

HOUSTON – A 13-count federal indictment has been returned against Tanzanian national Amon Rweyemamu Mtaza and Dion Hatch, of Houston, alleging a stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) scheme, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. 

Hatch, 40, was taken into custody this morning and is expected to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy today at 2:00 p.m. Mtaza, 38, was arrested upon the filing of a criminal complaint March 3, 2014. He appeared for a detention hearing Thursday, March 28, 2014, at which time he was ordered into custody pending further criminal proceedings. 

The indictment, returned March 26, 2014, charges both defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud and six counts of aggravated identify theft.  

Mtaza and Hatch engaged in a sophisticated tax fraud/identity theft case involving the filing of hundreds of fraudulent tax returns, according to allegations. Mtaza and Hatch allegedly used stolen and unlawfully obtained personal identity information, including the names and Social Security numbers, of true persons to prepare fraudulent U.S. income tax returns. The suspects electronically filed the fraudulent federal income tax returns in order to generate and obtain tax refunds to which they were not entitled, according to the charges. Mtaza and Hatch then either directed the fraudulently obtained tax refunds to be deposited onto reloadable debit cards or disbursed as U.S. Treasury checks. 

The fraudulently obtained refunds were used to obtain cash and goods for their own benefit, according to the allegations. The tax refund filings attributed to this group allegedly account for an excess of $1.8 million in losses and more than 600 victims.  

Each conviction of conspiracy to commit and substantive counts of wire fraud carry a possible 20-year prison sentence as well as a possible $250,000 fine. If convicted of aggravated identify theft, the defendants also face an additional mandatory two-year prison term on each counts which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. 

The investigation leading up to the arrest was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting this case. 

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of lawr their benefit.

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