Man faces 7 years in prison for cashing stolen tax refund checks in Lexington

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A Georgia man is facing prison time after using the identity of other people to fraudulently collect federal income tax refunds.

James Changala Kaira, 39, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison and was ordered to pay $588,129.62 in restitution for theft of public money, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft after he admitted to filing false tax returns using the identities of other taxpayers, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

In some circumstances, from January 2013 until March 2014, he obtained tax refund checks that were issued to those taxpayers by the United States Treasury. He then forged the taxpayers' signatures on the checks and cashed them at a money services business in Lexington.

Between February and March of 2014, Kaira committed bank fraud by using the false tax returns to obtain refund anticipation loans from one of several financial institutions. Kaira fraudulently claimed $668,046.45 in tax refunds; of this amount, $588,129.62 was paid by the U.S. Treasury, the release said.

Kaira pleaded guilty to the charges in August. Under federal law, he will have to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence and will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years after completing his sentence, the release said.