Smyrna Man Sentenced for Identity Theft and Tax Fraud
ATLANTA—Michael Awiti has been sentenced to six years and three months in prison for filing fraudulent tax returns using the stolen identities of children.
“This defendant used the stolen identities of children in his scheme to steal from the United States Treasury,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “This office in collaboration with our law enforcement partners will continue to do our best to stop these fraudulent schemes and protect the public from identity theft.”
“Identity thieves are becoming more devious, creative, and conniving,” stated Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “They steal our identities, steal government money and prey upon innocent citizens. These criminals must be and will continue to be pursued in order to obtain justice for the victims as well as justice for our nation.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: From 2010 through 2012, Awiti owned and operated Fidelity Financial, LLC in Smyrna, Ga. During that time, Awiti engaged in a scheme to defraud the Department of the Treasury by filing over 500 fraudulent income tax returns using stolen identities. This type of scheme is commonly called stolen identity refund fraud. Awiti used the stolen personal identification information of hundreds of victims, along with fake wage and withholding information, to prepare fraudulent tax returns. The majority of the identity theft victims were children. Awiti sought fraudulent refunds totaling approximately $2,678,725.35; however, the IRS rejected some of the claims, resulting in an actual loss to the U.S. Treasury of $1,783,316.00.
Awiti, 29, of Smyrna, Ga., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. to six years, three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,783,316.00. Awiti was convicted on these charges on May 5, 2014, after he pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by Special Agents the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you believe you may be a victim of tax return-related identity theft please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245 (Mon.—Fri., 7 a.m.—7 p.m. local time).
Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Brown prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.Pressefirstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.