Tax preparer accused of filing bogus returns

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A local tax preparer stands accused of hijacking identities and stealing federal dollars through bogus tax returns.

Federal investigators say 36-year-old Ronald Shoniwa stole names and social security numbers from 11 people and filed bogus returns for them, some more than once. Authorities say he collected more than $50,000.

Shoniwa is a tax preparer. He had a company called Rapid Refund Tax Service. That Hazelwood office is now shut down.

With the exception of one person who had used him in the past, authorities say Shoniwa's victims were not customers, just random people.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan says Shoniwa filed 15 bogus claims between 2010 and 2012, using his professional know-how to commit his crimes.

"If he had my name and social security number," Callahan,"he'd be filing a return showing some made up wages, greater withholdings and a nice refund, three, five six thousand dollars."

Callahan says file your tax returns as soon as you can so a crook doesn't beat you to it.

If convicted, Shoniwa faces a heavy fine and prison time.


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