CPA Faces Five Years In Refund Fraud

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doj logoA Los Angeles, Calf.-based CPA has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. Accountant and tax preparer, Masood Chotoni, entered the plea which stemmed from charges that he filed returns using names and Social Security numbers of deceased taxpayers. He faces a maximum five years in prison and $250,000 fine.

Chotani had spent three years as a fugitive in Pakistan before he was apprehended.

Chotani's plea covers accusations that in 2002 and 2003 he misappropriated employer identification information from his client files and provided the information to a co-conspirator, Haroon Amin. Amin and another co-conspirator, Ather Ali, used the stolen data and the Social Security numbers and or identification information obtained from the Internet to prepare and file fraudulent returns

These returns had phony W-2s and attachments. Chotani admitted being a participant in the scheme and said he had filed similar returns in his parents' names. The 250 returns filed claimed more than $2 million in refunds. The Internal Revenue Service rejected most of the refund requests but some were delivered and the checks were deposited in bank accounts in Armenia and Afghanistan.

Amin pleaded guilty to a similar change on Jan. 25, 2010, and is serving a 30-month prison term. Ali drew a 37-month sentence when he pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2010.

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