TAMPA — The U.S. Attorney's office charged a Tampa man in a tax return scam, an indictment that's part of an overall emphasis to combat Internal Revenue Service-related fraud.
Koffi Gbikpi, 46, was charged with 17 counts of making and presenting false, fictitious, or fraudulent claims. He faces up to five years in federal prison on each count, if convicted.
Gbikpi prepared and filed 17 federal income tax returns with the IRS between February and November 2009, according a release from the U.S. Attorney's office in Tampa. But the returns, alleges the release, totaled $704,676 in false refunds. Gbikpi used several email addresses to submit the false refunds, authorities allege.
Uncovering false tax return scams has been a priority for Tampa-area law enforcement agencies. A task force made up of several local and federal departments charged 49 people with tax return fraud in Hillsborough County last year, in a case that found $130 million in ill-gotten returns. The IRS also listed Tampa as one of nine cities nationwide with the highest risk for tax fraud in a report released earlier this year. Officials say a rise in identity theft, especially in stolen social security numbers, could be one reason for the rash of fraud cases.