Four tax preparers in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center have been indicted on 63 counts of identity theft, conspiracy and tax fraud.
They are accused of preparing false federal and state tax returns that included reporting false dependents, inflated deductions and wages, and fictitious businesses.
The indictment said the four tax preparers shared the illegally gained tax refunds with the people for whom they prepared the taxes, sometimes escorting them to nearby check-cashing businesses where they demanded a cut, ranging from $600 to $2,000.
The four defendants are Francis Saygbay, also known as Junior Saygbay; Chatonda Khofl, also known as Kenneth Koffi; Ismael Kosh, and Amadou Sangaray, according to a U.S. Justice Department news release posted on Tuesday on the U.S. District Court website.
The statement did not give their ages or addresses.
Khofl has an attorney in Arlington, Texas, but the attorney’s office said he was unavailable Tuesday.
The four were involved in bilking the IRS and the state of Minnesota from 2007 to 2009, a period in which they filed more than 2,000 income tax returns with the IRS, according to the Justice Department.
The indictments were handed down Nov. 22, but were initially sealed by U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen.
The defendants’ firm, Primetime Tax Service Inc., opened its first storefront at 6930 Brooklyn Blvd. on Jan. 1, 2007; a second one at 2120 W. Broadway in Minneapolis on Jan. 1, 2008, and a third one at 2740 Minnehaha Av. in Minneapolis on Jan. 1, 2009.
The identity theft charges stem from the defendants’ use of names and Social Security numbers of real people to falsely claim as dependents on their customers’ individual tax returns, the news release said.
In some instances, the indictment alleges, the defendants withdrew cash from debit cards containing their customers’ refunds without their permission, in addition to collecting tax preparation fees.
Dennis Kihm, an attorney for the Justice Department’s tax division in Washington, D.C., which is handling the case, declined to comment.
Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached to comment.