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Financial Crimes

Zimbabwe man living in north Texas sentenced to nearly 4 years in federal prison, ordered to pay $118,000 in restitution for tax-fraud conspiracy

DALLAS — A man from Zimbabwe and living in north Texas was sentenced Wednesday to three years and 10 months in federal prison, and ordered to pay $118,139 in restitution, stemming from his role in a tax refund fraud scheme.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Cephas Msipa, who resided in Plano, Texas, pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding Information in August 2013 charging one count of conspiracy. He has been in federal custody since his arrest on an indictment in November 2012. In the Feb. 26 hearing, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade stated that Msipa will be deported back to Zimbabwe after he serves his prison sentence.

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

Msipa used a forged United Kingdom passport to establish a private mail box 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 mail box, to open three accounts at Bank of America and two accounts at Chase Bank.

The factual resume further states that during this time frame, co-conspirators electronically filed about 105 fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities and false income information that directed the IRS to deposit a total of $118,139 in refunds into accounts Msipa opened.

In a related case, defendant Elijah Meskano, pleaded guilty to the same offense in May 2013. Meskano, according to the factual resume filed in his case, from Dec. 22, 2011 through November 29, 2012, also opened bank accounts using a false name to receive refunds from fraudulently filed tax returns. According to a complaint filed in Meskano's case, he and Msipa were roommates living in Plano, Texas. Meskano is scheduled to be sentenced April 3, 2014.

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