Former Lansing Resident Tsiidzoyedu Callista Chiwocha Pleads Guilty to Federal Tax Charge
GRAND RAPIDS, MI—On December 23, 2015, Tsiidzoyedu Callista Chiwocha, 43, a former resident of Lansing Michigan, pled guilty in federal court to having obtained more than $24,000 from the United States Treasury in 2011 by causing false federal tax returns to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced today. Her scheme involved deceiving citizens into providing their personal identification information by promising them “free stimulus money.” The tax returns typically contained false reporting of undocumented income and abusive use of the Earned Income credit.
U.S. Attorney Miles affirmed his commitment to pursing stolen identity fraud cases as a high priority for his office. “When someone cheats on a federal tax return, they are hurting all honest taxpayers in the Western District of Michigan and elsewhere.”
Complaints by local citizens prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a criminal investigation, including obtaining multiple search warrants to seize evidence of a tax fraud scheme. During the multi-year investigation, more than fifty subpoenas were issued to track down the tax refunds which had been paid into numerous bank accounts. In some instances, the personal identification information was used to file a tax return in a successive year. In an earlier prosecution, Taka Chiwocha-Crowell, the sister of Tsiidzoyedu Chiwocha, pled guilty to filing false tax returns and was sentenced to 42 months’ incarceration. Tsiidzoyedu Chiwocha’s sentencing has been scheduled for May 16, 2016 before Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker.
“We take these types of fraud very seriously,” said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division. “These schemes were multi-layered in that they involved countless stolen identities, various amounts of money taken from numerous individuals, as well as large sums of money diverted from the American people as a whole. This conviction should serve as a reminder of the FBI’s commitment to the investigation of all types of financial fraud schemes.”
The investigation was conducted by the Lansing Office of the FBI and the Lansing Office of IRS Criminal Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. MacDonald.