Two local businessmen were named in a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday accusing them of conspiring to profit from fraudulent tax refund checks. Osama “Sam” Mahmud Mustafa of Riverview and Khaldoun “Tony” Khalil Khawaja of Tampa, as well as Khawaja’s brother, Muawia “Mike” Khalil Abdeljalil, are all charged.
In connection with the tax fraud indictment, federal prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of more than $26 million either obtained from or linked to the offenses.
Khawaja was sentenced last month to three years in prison on a federal weapons charge. Abdeljalil was arrested in Tampa on tax fraud-related charges when he attended his brother’s sentencing hearing.
The three men are accused of involvement in a type of fraud in which street criminals use stolen personal information to file tax returns with bogus financial information used to get tax “refunds.” According to a federal indictment, the three men used their businesses to launder the proceeds of tax fraud. Authorities say they purchased fraudulent income tax return checks and checks issued for refund anticipation loans and then presented those fraudulent checks for payment at financial institutions in Virginia, Florida and elsewhere. The brothers own convenience stores – Khawaja in Tampa and Abdeljalil in Virginia. Mustafa owns Tampa car businesses.
In total, the three are accused of fraudulently depositing more than $17.5 million.
Khawaja was recorded buying bogus U.S. Treasury checks from undercover detectives, according to evidence introduced in his weapons trial in January. On the recording, Khawaja can be seen paying $280, representing 20 percent of the face value, for a bogus Treasury check. When investigators searched Khawaja’s store, they found four Treasury checks in his front pocket, according to a federal court affidavit. He told agents he often negotiated Treasury checks and sent them to Abdeljalil in Roanoke, Va.
Agents obtained FedEx Express records of 36 packages sent by Khawaja to Abdeljalil between February and July 2010. In addition, agents analyzed 399 of the checks worth almost $1.7 million deposited into Abdeljalil’s accounts, and found a majority of them were payable to out-of-state residents, primarily people in Tampa. At least three of the checks in Abdeljalil’s accounts were prepared by Shawntrece Sims, who was sentenced in December to nine years in federal prison for committing more than $670,000 in tax fraud and mail fraud.