Date: December 13, 2019
A Zambian national who operated a scheme to steal U.S. taxpayer identities and fraudulently claim their refunds was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison.
Innocent Wangwamba, 36, of Zambia, was sentenced by District Judge Sam A. Lindsay on December 13 after an extensive investigation led by IRS Criminal Investigations Dallas Field Office. The defendant pleaded guilty in July to theft of public money and aiding and abetting in Mansfield, Texas.
In his plea papers, he admitted that from February 2012 to March 2014, he participated in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme involving falsely claimed tax refunds from the Department of the Treasury. His participation in the scheme involved obtaining Electronic Filing Identification Numbers from IRS in stolen identities, obtaining and sharing personal identifying information of victims, setting up fraudulent accounts with third party providers such as Drake and Refund Advantage to file tax returns and obtain refunds, directing falsely claimed returns to particular bank accounts.
Through this scheme, the co-conspirators submitted more than 7,400 fraudulent tax returns in the names of U.S. taxpayers using stolen personal identifying information. The schemers attempted to obtain US $36,000,000 from the U.S. Treasury, but IRS was able to prevent more than US $29,000,000 of the attempted fraud. Still, the co-conspirators stole approximately $6,000,000 from the U.S. Treasury. Most of the defendant's participation occurred while he was outside of the United States. At the end of one of his trips to the United States, the defendant was arrested at JFK Airport in New York attempting to board a flight out of the country.
The defendant, a citizen of Zambia with a permanent resident card to live in the United States, will likely face deportation proceedings after his sentence.