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I see dead people's tax refunds

With apologies to all connected to The Sixth Sense (one of my favorite flicks, by the way), "I see dead people's tax refunds" apparently was the catch phrase of a California man who ran a temporarily successful scheme to claim false refunds.

Haroon Amin of Upland, Calif., has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing at least 250 tax returns of dead people.

Amin and another Golden State resident, Ather Ali, were were accused in December 2008 of filing returns in 2002 and 2003 on which they falsely stated that the deceased individuals earned wages from which income tax was withheld. The false returns, allege prosecutors, claimed more than $2 million in tax refunds.

The IRS says it rejected most of the false refund claims, but it did send out some checks (no specifics were provided by the agency) that went to addresses the government says were controlled by Amin and other co-conspirators.

Most of that money, according to the feds, then was transferred to bank accounts in Armenia and Pakistan.

Amin's sentencing is set for June 22. He could get up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

His co-defendant Ali is scheduled to go to trial in early March.

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