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Debt collector charged in alleged phony tax refund scheme

Prosecutors say Stephanie Izevbizua, a 34-year-old woman whose address could not be confirmed, tried to pick up a $39,170 tax refund check on March 1. According to state Tax Department investigators, she used phony information to try to make the claim.

Izevbizua, the owner and sole employee of a Buffalo-based debt collection agency called Web Debt Solutions, faces charges of third-degree attempted criminal tax fraud, third-degree attempted grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. She was being held on $100,000 bail in the Erie County Holding Center.

In March, authorities say Izevbizua filed a personal income tax return claiming wage earnings of $7,500, requesting an $878 refund.

Several weeks later, Izevbizua is alleged to have filed an amended tax return claiming wages of over $5 million, and requested a refund of about $39,000, according to the Erie County District Attorney's Office.

Izevbizua was arraigned April 25 before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia and is scheduled to return to court on June 18.

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