Two tax preparers and a recruiter who worked with them pleaded guilty in San Diego Thursday to federal charges involving the filing of false returns, the use of stolen identities and the receipt of more than $880,000 in bogus refunds.
Rahim Ali Cummings, 47, and Ebrahim Ashamu, 58, were tax preparers who worked in El Cajon.
Rashad Abdul-Rahim, 46, worked with Cummings and Ashamu by recruiting customers and obtaining stolen identities to use in their fraudulent scheme, prosecutors said.
Cummings and Abdul-Rahim pleaded guilty to conspiracy and Ashamu pleaded guilty to filing false claims and aggravated identity theft.
According to the plea agreements, Cummings and Ashamu prepared and filed the false returns with the Internal Revenue Service between September 2011 and September 2012. Adbul-Rahim solicited and obtained the personal identifying information from the victims using false pretenses, such as informing them they could obtain “free” government money from grant and senior programs.
Abdul-Rahim provided Cummings and Ashamu with the personal information of the victims, which was used to prepare and file the false returns. The IRS uncovered the scheme because a majority of the refunds were mailed to addresses controlled by the defendants.
According to the plea agreements, Cummings received more than $470,000 in fraudulent refunds directly deposited into bank accounts he controlled. Ashamu received $367,631, and Abdul-Rahim received nearly $45,000 in fraudulent refunds and cash payments from Cummings and Ashamu for providing the victims’ information.
Each defendant agreed to make full restitution to the IRS for the total amount of false refunds they received.
A civil complaint will be filed to prevent the defendants from acting as a tax preparer in the future, prosecutors said.
Sentencing was set for May 1 in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez.
–City News Service
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