A 27-year-old Los Angeles County man who used other people's social security numbers to file false tax returns is facing 15 years behind bars following his guilty plea on an IRS case.
Montclair resident Chibueze Chidozie Nwafor, also known as “Cheeze," entered his guilty plea Tuesday, just as his criminal trial was set to begin.
Nwafor pleaded guilty to three criminal counts – presenting false claims to the United States, theft of government benefits, and aggravated identity theft.
According to IRS Special Agent Linda Lowery, it was unclear whether Nwafor is a U.S. ctizen.
"There was nothing in the public record about his ethnicity or alien status," Lowery told Patch in an interview.
Nwafor is set for sentencing April 29, Lowery said.
“Identity theft is a serious crime that victimizes honest taxpayers and causes immense hardship,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation.
“Yesterday’s actions should serve as a warning that we will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney’s office to hold accountable those individuals who undermine our income tax system by filing false claims for refunds.”
The defendant defrauded the government between 2009 and 2011, according to Lowery.
He used the identifcation of other people to submit false returns, filling in erroneous information, including wrong information of taxes withheld and wages received by a bogus corporation he called California Mutual Life and Health, Lowery said.
In addition to using real people's name and social security numbers to file false returns, Nwafor also stole others' tax refunds.
Authorities contend that in 2009, Nwafor prepared tax returns for various individuals, including a 2008 federal income tax return in the name of an unidentified victim claiming a tax refund of $7,773.
As he did with other tax returns he filed, Nwafor included a Form W-2 which falsely claimed that the victim received $30,119 in wages from CMLH.
He secured the $7,773 tax refund for that person but took it for himself, Lowery said.
In 2011, Nwafor filed a false 2010 tax return, garnering for himelf $32,789 from the IRS.
Losses to the taxpayers from Nwafor's fraud and identity theft are estimated at a minimum $126,991.
Nwafor also faces a $750,000 fine, in addition to time behind bars.