Brevard County Resident Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Tax Fraud Scheme and Aggravated Identity Theft
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 23, 2013|
ORLANDO, FL—U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell today sentenced Abdul Cunningham (38, Rockledge) to 12 years in federal prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The court also ordered Cunningham to pay restitution in the amount of $560,731.00. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $560,731.00, the proceeds of the wire fraud scheme.
Cunningham pleaded guilty on June 13, 2013. Co-defendant Jana Harris-Cunningham pleaded guilty on June 24, 2013. Harris-Cunningham is scheduled to be sentenced on October 7, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Presnell.
According to court documents, the defendants 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). As part of their scheme, both used the stolen identities along with false and fraudulent wage and tax withholding information to prepare fraudulent federal income tax returns, thereby falsely claiming refunds. After filing the false returns, Cunningham and Harris-Cunningham accepted, negotiated, and “swiped” reloadable debit cards that they knew contained fraudulently obtained income tax refunds.
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.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Rockledge Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Haas.