CLEVELAND - Five northeast Ohio residents have been accused to using the identities of dead people to get tax refunds.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a 10-count indictment was filed against six people for the scheme that resulted in $1.7 million in fraudulent tax returns from the IRS.
Authorities said that between April 2009 and August 2011, the six people, with the help of others that haven't been identified, filed false tax forms under the names of recently deceased people.
"The theft of anyone's identity is a serious offense, but stealing the identities of the recently departed to defraud all the other taxpayers is particularly egregious," said Steven M. Dettelbach, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, in a news release on Wednesday.
The following people are charges with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft:
-Muaad Salem, age 33, of Akron
-Hazem Woodi, age 31, of North Olmsted
-Najeh Widdi, age 45, of Cleveland
-Fahim Suleiman, age 46, of Lutz, Florida
-Daxesj Patel, age 35, of Canton
-Hannan Widdi, age 38, of Cleveland
If convicted, the suspects face fines of $250,000. For the mail fraud charge alone, those accused could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.