Three Arrested In Connection With Alleged ID Theft/Tax Fraud Scheme

NEWARK – Federal agents have arrested three of four men in conjunction with a scheme to steal identity information and use it in the preparation and filing of fraudulent income tax returns to generate illegal refunds, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Friday.

Evans Boamah, 30, of Elizabeth; Alidu Dramani, 33, of Irvington; and Thomas Donkor, 30, of Parlin, were arrested by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Secret Service agents. The were charged with conspiracy to defraud the government, fraud and aggravated identity theft. A fourth man, Philip Appenteng, 27, of New York, remained at large on Friday.

According to the complaint:

Boamah and Dramani are employees of the North Jersey Developmental Center in Totowaan institution operated by the State of New Jersey. Appenteng and Boamah allegedly provided stolen identity information in the form of three pages from a notebook containing 23 names, with Social Security numbers and dates of birth for each name. Records of the Social Security Administration (SSA) established that the Social Security numbers are identified with and connected to New York residents.

The alleged purpose and intent of providing the identity information was to prepare false federal income tax returns that fraudulently generated refunds. The stolen identity information was given to Donkor, a tax preparer, who was told the source of the identity information was a single individual, authorities said. Donkor allegedly agreed to prepare fraudulent tax returns for the names given to him. Dramani allegedly provided a carbon copy list of 18 identities of people who, according to records of the SSA, are currently residing at the institution where Dramani and Boamah are employed. Boamah also allegedly provided eight deposit tickets and two blank checks for accounts at PNC bank in New Jersey and JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. The alleged purpose of the blank checks was to identify the accounts and routing numbers to which the anticipated refunds should be directly deposited. An examination of these accounts has established that their exclusive function was to receive tax refunds from both federal and state governments and to purchase tax-preparation software, authorities said. The claims connected to these accounts and made against the IRS totaled $87,250 on 14 tax returns filed for the 2011 tax year.

The charges of conspiracy to submit false claims against the United States and identity theft are punishable by a maximum potential prison term of 10 years and five years, respectively, and a fine of $250,000; the charge of aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory prison term of two years, which must be consecutive to the sentence on the other charges.

Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, and the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jacob Christine, with the investigation leading to the arrests.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations; they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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