DALLAS – A Zimbabwean man resident in north Texas has been sentenced to 93 months in a US Federal Prison for his role in a Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) Scheme that raked in millions of dollars.
Reminico Zhangazha was handed the sentence by U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey on Monday and also ordered to pay more than US$2,6 million in restitution.
Zhangazha pleaded guilty in June 2014 to one count of theft of public funds.
Zhangazha’s co-defendant in the case, Tonderai Sakupwanya, pleaded guilty last year to the same offense and was sentenced earlier this year to 87 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $2.6 million in restitution.
The restitution is payable jointly and severally by the two defendants. The plea agreements with the government noted that Zhangazha and Sakupwanya forfeited the following property seized by law enforcement agents in May 2012 during the investigation:
$10,613 cash seized from Zhangazha’s vehicle;
$93,513 cash from Villa Piana Luxury Apartments on Noel Road in Dallas;
and $4,500 from a residence on Spring Mountain in Plano, Texas.
According to the factual resumes filed in the case, Zhangazha and Sakupwanya engaged in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by obtaining stolen tax refunds that were generated by e-filing false and fraudulent income tax returns.
They rented private mailboxes in the names of aliases by using forged United Kingdom passports. They then established bank accounts using the alias names and mailing addresses acquired at the private mailboxes.
During the course of the scheme, Zhangazha used the aliases of “Martin V. Masters” and “Roy Daniel Black.” Sakupwanya used the aliases of “Webster G. Rice,” “Floyd Robbins,” and “Floyd Roberts,” during the scheme, according to the factual resume.
According to the factual resumes, the Forms 1040 directed the IRS to electronically deposit the refunds into bank accounts the defendants established.
Alternatively, the Forms 1040 directed refunds to be issued by a treasury check and mailed to an address under the control of the defendants. The income tax returns also directed refunds to accounts established at a third-party financial services company, such as EPS Financial, that would enable them to issue a check containing the tax refund.
These third party checks and the treasury checks were deposited into bank accounts the defendants established. After the checks were deposited, or the tax refunds were electronically deposited, the defendants would withdraw the funds for their own use.
The factual resumes note that the cash, mentioned above, which was seized from the defendants during the investigation, was obtained by them as a result of their scheme.
The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Stokes prosecuted.