3,300 false tax returns file in names of prisoners

So…. would you count this one as a government breach?

A former Chicago man living in Israel since 2003, two of his sons and a son-in-law living in Chicago and Los Angeles were arrested and are among 10 defendants indicted on federal tax fraud conspiracy charges for allegedly seeking to obtain more than $35 million in federal and state income tax refunds using the identities of some 3,300 federal prison inmates, federal officials announced yesterday. In all, two defendants were arrested in Israel, two in Chicago, one in Los Angeles and one in Michigan, while three other Chicago area defendants are expected to appear in court here at later dates, and one remaining defendant, who is believed to be in Israel is still being sought.

According to the indictment, all 10 defendants conspired to defraud the IRS and state tax agencies beginning no later than 2003 and continuing to February 2009. Marvin Berkowitz allegedly recruited and enlisted dozens of co-conspirators and associates to submit more than 2,900 federal income tax returns and more than 400 false state income tax returns, which were filed in the names and social security numbers of federal inmates without their knowledge or consent. The false returns included various fictitious and false items, including addresses and phone numbers, deductions, business losses and expenses, credits, and W-2 wage and 1099 income statements of earnings from employers. Marvin Berkowitz allegedly recruited and paid others to travel to various federal courthouses to collect certain personal information about federal inmates, including social security numbers and offenses of conviction, and provide him with that information. He then recruited and paid others to assist him in the preparation of individual federal and state income tax returns using the inmates’ stolen identities.

The defendants are: Marvin Berkowitz, also known as “Marvin Berk,” and “Joseph Berkovicz,” 62,formerly of Chicago and arrested in Jerusalem; 34 counts of mail/wire fraud and 6 counts of identity theft;
David Berkowitz, 32, of Hollywood, Ca., Marvin Berkowitz’s son; arrested in the Los Angeles area;
Eric Berkowitz, 33, of Chicago; Marvin Berkowitz’s son-in-law, arrested here;
Yair Berkowitz, 26, of Chicago; Marvin Berkowitz’s son, arrested here;
Fernando Benalcazar, 48, of Warrenville, Il., will be arraigned at a later date;2
Marvin Harris, 75, of Chicago, was arrested in Michigan;
Yousef Lefkowitz, 26, formerly of Brooklyn, N.Y., and living in Israel;
Christopher Moore, 44, of East Hazelcrest, Il., will be arraigned at a later date;
Kevin Murray, 54, of Berkeley, Il., will be arraigned at a later date; and
Franklin Novak, 61, formerly of Charlotte, N.C., and living in Jerusalem where he was arrested.

The arrests and charges were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service also assisted in the investigation, along with the U.S. Department of State Regional Security Office in Jerusalem and Israeli authorities.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois

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