An Ethiopian man in Atlanta has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for filing fraudulent income tax returns under several stolen identities, including that of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Yafait Tadesse pleaded guilty in November to stealing government funds. He will spend three years on supervised release after getting out of prison, and must also pay more than $4,000 in restitution to the IRS.
According to information presented in court, Tadesse, 21, and co-defendant Eyasu Abebe stole the identities of at least 10 victims. They used the information to file fake tax returns, claiming all the victims worked at Walmart and earned similar wages.
The defendants requested the fraudulent refunds be loaded onto prepaid debit cards. U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the cards were mailed to Tadesse’s Carrollton apartment, and surveillance video taken inside a Carroll County store showed Tadesse making a purchase with one of the cards.
One of the stolen identities belonged to Holder. Yates said the defendants found Holder’s name, date of birth and Social Security number on the Internet.
“It does not matter your political position, economic status or social standing — you are susceptible to identity theft. No one is immune,” IRS Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot said in a release.
Tadesse and Abebe’s other victims live throughout the United States. One victim wrote the sentencing judge a letter that said at the time of the crime, his wife was pregnant with the couple’s seventh child. The defendants created a financial burden for the couple by preventing them from receiving a legitimate tax refund, according to the letter.
Abebe pleaded guilty in October to stealing government funds and will be sentenced Aug. 7.
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