(Last Updated on September 9, 2012 by TAPIWA MAGUJI)
CINCINNATI — Seven men from Zimbabwe have been indicted on charges of using the identities of hundreds of Americans to file false tax returns that netted them up to $10 million, officials announced Friday.
A federal grand jury indicted the men Thursday, charging them in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati with conspiracy, fraud, identity theft and money laundering. They each would face up to 60 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.
The indictment alleges that the men ran a tax preparation business in Cincinnati and that between 2006 and 2010 they used the identities of at least 658 people nationwide to file false tax returns and collect between $2.4 million and $10 million.
The men sent money and dozens of luxury cars and semi-trucks back to Zimbabwe but also kept much of the profits to themselves, the indictment says. Among items seized by authorities were multiple Mercedes-Benz cars, a Cadillac, an Audi, a BMW, watches by Burberry and Gucci and numerous laptops, iPads and TVs.
Three of the men are brothers and were identified as Kudzaiishe Marimbire, Tawanda Marimbire and Julius Marimbire, all citizens of Zimbabwe.
Also indicted were Hlomera Mabhande, Johanes Tagarisa and Kudzaishe Bungu, also all citizens of Zimbabwe.
A seventh man who was indicted, Andrew Bere, was listed as a U.S. citizen but is from Zimbabwe.
Tawanda Marimbire was arrested in April and is in federal custody, but authorities wouldn’t say where.
Bere is out pending a court hearing later this month, and a message left for him Friday wasn’t immediately returned. The rest of the men are believed to have fled the United States
The scheme was uncovered after a number of people across the nation were unable to file tax returns because returns already had been filed for them, U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Fred Alverson said.