Russian national sentenced to 15 years for 11 million dollar wire fraud conspiracy


Thousands of fraudulent tax returns, using stolen identities, funneled refunds to bank accounts in Russia

Date: March 28, 2024


A Russian national was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to use stolen identities to file thousands of federal income tax returns that claimed more than $11 million in fraudulent refunds.

Anton Vikharev was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Vikharev to pay $2,020,569 in restitution and to forfeit to the government $537,000.

On July 26, 2023, Vikharev pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Vikharev admitted that he engaged in a scheme to defraud the United States by filing false and fraudulent federal income tax returns using stolen identities from January 2015 through March 1, 2018.

In this scheme, 7,167 false and fraudulent tax returns were filed for tax years 2011- 2016. The returns, which used the stolen names and Social Security numbers of other people, claimed $11,178,361 in fraudulent refunds. The Internal Revenue Service actually paid at least $2,020,569 in fraudulent tax refunds.

Fraudulent refunds were deposited into bank accounts the conspirators controlled. Vikharev’s role in the conspiracy was to withdraw fraudulent tax refunds from bank ATMs in cash, launder the cash through gold purchases and through high volume cash deposits into other accounts, and send the stolen money to Russia via wire transfers. Conspirators bought gold bullion with some of the proceeds. After the proceeds were laundered, conspirators wired at least $1,411,082 to accounts in Russia. Vikharev personally received $156,120 in proceeds wired to Russian bank accounts in his control.

Vikharev laundered some of the proceeds from the fraud conspiracy by purchasing a total of $537,000 in gold, some of which was sold with the proceeds wired to co-conspirators in Russia, which is the basis for the forfeiture money judgment.

Vikharev left the United States in early July 2017. He exited the United States at the southern border into Mexico. From Mexico, Vikharev flew to Cuba and then to Russia. On June 4, 2021, Vikharev was arrested in Toronto, Canada. Vikharev was detained in custody while he litigated extradition to the United States for approximately two years.

According to court documents, Vikharev, a Russian citizen, originally came to the United States on June 12, 2012, on a student visa that expired on Sept. 9, 2012. Vikharev stayed illegally in the United States for five more years. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Vikharev agreed to a judicial order of removal from the United States following incarceration.

Two co-defendants in this case are last known to be in Russia, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen D. Mahoney. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.