CLEVELAND -- Four more people were recently sentenced for their roles in a $1.7 million scheme to defraud the United States by obtaining false and fraudulent U.S. Treasury tax refund checks using the identities of deceased people, said U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach.
Elian Zayed (AKA Nasser Zayed and Nick Zayed), 45, of Westlake was sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison and ordered to pay $177,744 in restitution after pleading guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud.
Samer Sammor, 40, of Broadview Heights, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $25,429 in restitution after pleading guilty to making a false claim against the U.S.
Eric J. Howard, 42, of Tampa, Florida, was sentenced to more than five years in prison and ordered to pay $177,744 in restitution after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Lamia Suleiman, 44, of Lutz, Florida, was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $177,744 in restitution after pleading guilty to misprision of a felony.
Five other people were sentenced to prison last year for their roles in a related scheme.
The IRS estimated that the scheme involved at least $1.7 million in fraudulently obtained tax returns.
From 2009 to at least August 2011, Zayed, Suleiman, Howard, Samor and other co-conspirators defrauded the United States by filing false and fraudulent tax returns, many in the names of recently deceased taxpayers, according to court documents.
The co-conspirators directed the refunds to controlled locations in Florida. The U.S. Treasury checks generated by the false tax returns were sent by U.S. mail to co-conspirators located in Ohio.
The Ohio co-conspirators then sold and distributed those Treasury checks for negotiation at various businesses and banking institutions, according to court documents.