Two Brevard County Residents Charged with Tax Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 12, 2013|
ORLANDO—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces the return of an indictment charging Abdul Cunningham and Jana Harris-Cunningham with five counts of wire fraud, five counts of filing a false claim with the Internal Revenue Service, four counts of theft of government property, and five counts of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, five years in federal prison for each false claim count, 10 years in federal prison for each theft of government property count, and a consecutive sentence of two years for each aggravated identity theft count. The indictment also notifies Cunningham and Harris-Cunningham that the United States intends to seek a money judgment in the amount of $560,731, the traceable proceeds of the alleged offenses. Cunningham and Harris-Cunningham were arrested on a criminal complaint on March 11, 2013 and March 28, 2013, respectively.
According to the indictment, Cunningham and Harris-Cunningham engaged in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Treasury Department by filing fraudulent income tax returns and negotiating fraudulent tax refunds using stolen identities, commonly referred to as stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF). It is alleged that, as part of their scheme, they used the stolen identities, along with false and fraudulent wage and withholding information, to prepare, and to cause to be prepared, fraudulent federal income tax returns falsely claiming refunds. After filing the false returns, they accepted, negotiated, and “swiped” reloadable debit cards, knowing the cards contained fraudulently obtained income tax refunds. It is alleged that Cunningham and Harris-Cunningham filed 145 false claims with the IRS for tax years 2010 and 2011. These false claims totaled $816,790. Of that amount, the IRS paid out $560,731.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Rockledge Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Haas.