Authorities in Massachusetts have charged a Belorussian man for his alleged role in an international phishing scheme to steal income tax refunds intended for U.S. taxpayers.
According to the indictment, Mikalai Mardakhayeu and his co-scammers ran websites that offered lower-income taxpayers free online tax return preparation and tax return e-filing services. After taxpayers entered their tax information seeking refunds for federal and state taxes, co-conspirators in Belarus allegedly gathered the data and changed the returns so that legitimate tax refund payments would be redirected to U.S. bank accounts controlled by Mardakhayeu.
The co-conspirators allegedly caused the fraudulently altered returns to be e-filed with the IRS and state treasury departments. Ultimately, the scam caused the U.S. Treasury and various state treasury departments to deposit roughly $200,000 in stolen refunds into bank accounts controlled by Mardakhayeu.
If convicted, Mardakhayeu faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.