According to United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court, from November 2012 through April 2013, Yafait Tadesse and co-defendant Eyaso Abebe carried out a scheme to obtain the names and social security numbers of unsuspecting victims from various websites and use this information on false tax returns that claimed fraudulent refunds.
The tax returns falsely claimed that the victims earned similar wage and withholding amounts and worked at Wal-Mart. The returns all claimed fraudulent refunds that were to be loaded onto pre-paid debit cards. These pre-paid debit cards listed Tadesse’s apartment complex in Carrollton as the mailing address.
While the IRS stopped several of the false returns from being fully processed, several fraudulent refunds were directed onto prepaid debit cards. Surveillance videos showed that Tadesse used one of these prepaid cards at stores in Carrollton.
One of the tax returns filed by Tadesse and Abebe used the name, social
security number, and date of birth of U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. There is no indication that the Attorney
General was specifically targeted as a result of his position.
The defendants obtained their victims’ information from publicly available websites that publicize the names, social security numbers, and other personally identifying information of unsuspecting individuals.
The other individuals targeted in this scheme were not government officials and were located across the United States. One of the victims wrote in a letter to the sentencing judge that at the time of the offense, his wife was pregnant with the couple’s seventh child and that the defendant’s actions prevented the couple from getting their legitimate tax refund, causing a financial burden to the family.“Identity theft affects people from all walks of life, from hardworking taxpayers trying to make ends meet, to senior government officials,” said Yates in a news release. “Identity thieves should be aware that we will continue to aggressively pursue them no matter who their victims happen to be.”
Tadesse, 21, was sentenced by United States District
Judge Amy Totenberg to one year and one day in federal prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to
pay $4,014 in restitution to the IRS.
The Court also ordered Tadesse, who pleaded guilty on November 13, 2013, to theft of government funds, to forfeit his interest in computers that were used to carry out this
The co-defendant in this case, Eyaso Abebe, pleaded guilty on October 16, 2013, to theft of government funds and will be sentenced on August 7, 2014.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal
Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you believe you may be a victim of tax return-related identity theft,
please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245.