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October 26, 2022

Chicago Man Sentenced in IRS Impersonation Scheme

On September 7, 2022, in the Northern District of Illinois, Hirenkumar Chaudhari was sentenced for Money Laundering. Chaudhari entered a guilty plea on January 14, 2021.

According to the court documents, in April 2018, Chaudhari was involved in a telemarketing scheme in which he contacted intended victims located across the United States in an effort to fraudulently obtain funds from the victims by posing as a government employee, including an employee of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Chaudhari would tell the intended victims they owed money to the IRS and that the amount owed must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Chaudhari would threaten the intended victims with arrest or deportation if they did not promptly pay the money purportedly owed to the IRS.

For example, in or around June 2018, one victim wired approximately $80,200 in funds to various individuals after receiving a call from a purported representative of the IRS who informed her that she would be arrested if she did not provide money to the IRS. These payments included a transfer of $15,000 to a U.S. bank account held in the name of “Michel Cook.” At the time of the U.S. bank account opening, the person purporting to be “Michel Cook” presented an Indian Passport as proof of his identity and provided the same address provided in connection with the opening of a BMO Harris Bank account in Chicago. During the BMO Harris Bank account opening, Chaudhari under the alias “Michel Cook,” signed a signature card, an IRS form W-8BEN, Certificate of Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Entities), and a BMO Harris Bank W-8BEN checklist. Chaudhari used this BMO Harris Bank account under the alias “Michel Cook” to receive money from the victims.

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Special Agents obtained the original account opening paperwork completed or signed by the person purporting to be “Michel Cook” in connection with the opening of the BMO Harris bank account. Agents subsequently provided this paperwork to TIGTA’s Forensic and Digital Science Laboratory for fingerprint analysis. Chaudhari’s fingerprints were found on the signature page of a document obtained when he opened the account for “Michel Cook.”

Chaudhari was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, ordered to pay $6,500 in restitution, and a $100 special assessment fee.

Source:  The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: N.D. Ill., Judgment, filed September 7, 2022; N.D. Ill., Plea Agr., filed January 14, 2022; and N.D. Ill., Crim. Compl., filed July 27, 2020.