Text size
related tags

A scheme directed by an American in Israel in which fake income tax returns were filed on behalf of U.S. prison inmates netted refunds of more than e4 million, prosecutors said on Monday in announcing fraud charges.

Marvin Berkowitz, 62, was arrested on Sunday in Jerusalem by Israeli authorities based on a U.S. indictment charging him with 34 counts of mail and wire fraud and six counts of identity theft. Nine other men, some of them Berkowitz's relatives in the United States and Israel, were also charged.

Beginning in 2003, prosecutors said Berkowitz's conspirators collected from federal courthouses the names and Social Security numbers of federal inmates and submitted 3,300 federal and state income tax returns in their names demanding refunds. The prisoners were unaware of the scheme.

Government checks amounting to more than $4 million were sent to sham businesses and bank accounts in the United States and Israel and cashed, according to the indictment.