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Financial Crimes

Dallas-area roommates each sentenced to nearly 4 years in federal prison on conspiracy convictions stemming from a tax refund fraud scheme

DALLAS — A Dallas-area man was sentenced Thursday to 45 months in federal prison and ordered to pay about $52,000 in restitution following his conspiracy conviction stemming from his role in a tax refund fraud scheme.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation.

Elijah Meskano pleaded guilty in May 2013 to a superseding information charging conspiracy to steal public funds. Following the June 12 hearing, U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle remanded him into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

According to a complaint filed in Meskano's case, he and Cephas Msipa were roommates in Plano, Texas. Msipa, who has been in federal custody since his arrest on an indictment in November 2012, pleaded guilty to the same offense and was sentenced in February 2014 to 46 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $118,000 in restitution. The court stated during his sentencing hearing that Msipa will be deported to Zimbabwe after he completes his prison sentence.

According to the factual resume filed in Msipa's case, Msipa admitted that from Jan. 5 until June 2012, he was involved in a conspiracy to obtain tax refunds generated by submitting fraudulent tax returns. For his part in the conspiracy, Msipa used a false name to open bank accounts in order to receive the refunds from the fraudulently filed tax returns.

Msipa used a forged United Kingdom passport to establish a private mailbox at a postal store on Preston Road in Dallas. Thereafter, according to the factual resume, Msipa used this false name, and the address of the mailbox, to open three accounts at Bank of America and two accounts at Chase Bank.

Meskano, according to the factual resume filed in his case, from Dec. 22, 2011 through Nov. 29, 2012, also opened bank accounts using a false name to receive refunds from fraudulently filed tax returns.

According to the factual resume filed in Meskano's case, from January through November 2012, the co-conspirators electronically filed 192 fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities and false income information that directed the IRS to deposit refunds into one of six bank accounts Meskano opened.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Stokes, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.