3 charged in tax fraud scheme using stolen IDs 

Three Southern California men have been arrested on federal tax fraud charges for allegedly using stolen identities to file fake tax returns seeking thousands of dollars in refunds.

Internal Revenue Service spokeswoman Linda Lowery says the men claimed to be tax preparers to gather identifications and use them to falsely claim the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit.

Thirty-six-year-old Thomas Marshall, 41-year-old Michael Williams and 33-year-old Mike Niko were taken into custody Thursday morning.

Two others also are charged in a 17-count indictment that accuses them of conspiring to defraud the federal government. An initial court appearance is slated for Feb. 8 for 35-year-old Veronika Niko. Mao Niko is being sought by authorities.

If convicted of various charges, the defendants face sentences ranging from 10 to 90 years.

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