CHICAGO, July 15 (UPI) -- Twenty-three people face federal charges of conspiring to claim more than $2.3 million in false federal tax refunds, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.
The 23 people, along with a Skokie, Ill., man arrested in April, allegedly shared IRS tax refunds by withdrawing the tax funds deposited into co-defendants' bank accounts, knowing that they were not entitled to the fraudulently obtained refunds, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said from his Chicago office.
Each of the two dozen defendants was charged with a count of conspiracy to steal federal funds and defraud the IRS, and at least one count of theft of government funds in one of two separate federal grand jury indictments unsealed after six defendants were arrested Tuesday, federal law enforcement officials said Thursday.
The indictments allege more than 440 fraudulent tax forms for tax years 2007, 2008 and 2009 that directed refunds be deposited to banks, mainly in the Chicago area, via electronic deposit. Some defendants allegedly recruited individuals who agreed to use their bank accounts or open new accounts to receive the refunds and economic stimulus payments, the department said. When a recruiter notified the account holder that a refund had been deposited, the account holders withdrew the money, giving some to the recruiter and keeping some for themselves.