If you read a lot of identity theft stories, they might all start to sound the same. But every once in a while you run across one with a refreshingly different twist. It’s the “stupid criminal” element that sets this one apart.
Johnny Opara, of St. Paul, Minn., has been charged with seven felony tax crimes and one case of identity theft, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Some of Opara’s victims say they hired him to prepare their taxes, but he never filed them. In other cases, Opara, 55, allegedly filed taxes for people who hadn’t hired him and knew nothing about his activities.
In 2004 Opara received a $1,100 tax return he wasn’t entitled to after filing a fraudulent property rent tax credit return. He’d filed for other returns, as well, but they were blocked before he received them.
Opara admitted that he had, in fact, filed a return in 2005 for a woman he didn’t know, and listed on the return dependents she didn’t have.
And now the stupid criminal element:
Opara’s defense? He told investigators that he had had a stroke and was just “practicing” filing the tax returns. He said he never meant to send them, but that some “got sent” and he couldn’t cancel them.
If convicted of all charges, Opara could face up to 55 years in prison and $80,000 in fines.
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