SF man sentenced for identity theft of fellow inmates

A San Francisco man was sentenced to seven years in federal prison Tuesday for a fraud scheme in which he used the identities of prison inmates with whom he was incarcerated to file false tax returns from 2010 to 2012, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Howard Webber, 52, was sentenced after a two-week trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. In all, he and his partner filed 700 false returns, which bilked the Internal Revenue Service for more than $600,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds, according to court records.

The scheme was executed by Webber, who was an inmate at the time, with the help of his partner Clifford Bercovich, a Marin County resident, who was also an inmate.

The pair got Social Security numbers and other personal information from fellow inmates in Santa Clara County Jail as well as San Quentin State Prison and the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility in Wisconsin.

The two men convinced other inmates to hand over their personal information by saying they could help them take advantage of stimulus programs and tax loopholes. Instead, they used their identities to file false tax returns and then collected the returns for themselves. They even set up an LLC called Inmate Assets Recovery and Liquidation Services LLC to make the scheme look legitimate.

Webber was found guilty Jan. 24 of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Bercovich previously pleaded guilty for his part in the scheme.

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