san fernando valley

San Fernando Valley Brothers Charged in Stolen Refund Check Scheme

Two brothers are named in a 13-count indictment returned by a Los Angeles federal grand jury that charges them with conspiracy, theft of government property, and international money laundering.

What to Know

  • The Ohiri brothers were arraigned on the indictment Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles.
  • The indictment alleges they conspired to use bank accounts to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • If the Ohiris are convicted of the charges alleged in the indictment, each defendant could face decades in federal prison.

Two brothers from Woodland Hills are facing trial in April on federal charges alleging a stolen tax refund check scheme involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulently obtained refunds, some of which were laundered through bank accounts held in the United Kingdom.

Victor A. Ohiri, 50, and Stephen O. Danielson-Ohiri, 49, were arrested late Tuesday. They are named in a 13-count indictment returned by a Los Angeles federal grand jury on Jan. 29 that charges them with conspiracy, theft of government property, and international money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The Ohiri brothers were arraigned on the indictment Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles. Both pleaded not guilty and were ordered to stand trial on April 23.

The indictment alleges that between March 2014 and March 2015, Victor and Stephen Ohiri, together with two unidentified co-conspirators, conspired to use bank accounts to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulently obtained federal income tax refunds. During the course of the conspiracy, at least $294,000 in federal income tax refunds was deposited into accounts controlled by the Ohiris, the government alleges.

According to the indictment, the unidentified co-conspirators filed fraudulent federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service in the names of taxpayers who were identity theft victims. They allegedly used fake documents, such as bogus Forms W-2, and information from the Ohiris' bank accounts to file the phony returns, which sought large tax refunds, often between $8,000 and $10,000.

Based on the false and fraudulent returns, the IRS issued tax refunds, which were electronically transmitted not to the named taxpayers, but instead to the bank accounts controlled by Victor and Stephen Ohiri, and others, according to the government. The brothers then allegedly withdrew the funds and/or transferred the funds to other bank accounts. The majority of the refund monies were wired overseas to the unidentified co-conspirators in the United Kingdom, federal prosecutors said.

During the investigation, IRS investigators seized about $181,000 in 2014 from two of Stephen Ohiri's bank accounts -- money that allegedly came from just one fraudulently obtained tax return.

If the Ohiris are convicted of the charges alleged in the indictment,each defendant could face decades in federal prison.

During the arraignment, a U.S. magistrate judge ordered Victor Ohiri detained without bond pending trial, while his brother was ordered released on a $75,000 bond, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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