Man Pleads Guilty to Filing 250 Tax Returns for Dead People

A California man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. after he was accused of filing at least 250 tax returns of deceased individuals.

Haroon Amin of Upland, Calif., pleaded guilty Monday to the charges. He was indicted, along with Ather Ali of Diamond Bar, Calif., in December 2008. The two were accused of filing the returns in 2002 and 2003 falsely stating that the deceased individuals earned wages from which income tax was withheld. The false returns claimed more than $2 million in income tax refunds.

The IRS rejected most of the refund claims, but it issued a number of refund checks that were delivered to addresses controlled by Amin, Ali and their co-conspirators, including to various mailboxes opened by Ali using false forms of identification. Most of the refund checks were then delivered overseas to be deposited in bank accounts in Armenia and Pakistan.

Amin admitted that he was a knowing participant in the scheme. According to the indictment and statements made at the plea hearing, he and his co-conspirators obtained deceased individuals’ Social Security numbers and other identification information from the Internet. The returns filed as part of the scheme had fictitious Form W-2 wage and tax statements as attachments. Amin created fake W-2 forms using employer identification numbers that he had obtained from an acquaintance who was a CPA.

Judge Robert H. Whaley has scheduled Amin's sentencing for June 22, 2010. Amin faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Ali is scheduled to begin trial on March 2, 2010.

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