|For Immediate Release
Case # 11CF1543
June 14, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
MAN CHARGED WITH STEALING $110,000 TAX REFUND FROM FEMALE VICTIM AND SPENDING MONEY ON FORECLOSURE DEBT AND STUDENT AND CAR LOANS
*Victim’s tax refund was deposited in error into defendant’s bank account due to filing mistake
SANTA ANA – A man has been arrested and charged with stealing a $110,000 tax refund, which belonged to another woman and was mistakenly deposited into his account, and spending the stolen money on foreclosure debt and car and student loans. Stephen Reginald McDow, 34, Laguna Beach, is charged with one felony count of theft of lost property with a sentencing enhancement for taking property over $65,000. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison. McDow was arrested today, June 14, 2011, by the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) and is being held on $110,000 bail. He will be required to prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bail. He is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, June 15, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
In August 2010, Michelle D. electronically filed her 2009 federal income tax returns with the expectation of a $110,000 tax refund from the federal government. The victim filed her taxes with the request that her refund be directly deposited into a numbered bank account.
In December 2010, after months of waiting for her federal tax return, Michelle D. asked her accountant to check on the status of the return. It was learned that $110,000 had been deposited into the bank account requested on the victim’s tax return on Sept. 10, 2010. The victim then discovered that she had inadvertently provided a Citibank bank account number that had been closed in 2004. That account number was later reassigned to bank customer McDow.
At the request of Citibank and the victim, McDow is accused of calling Michelle D.’s attorney on Feb. 28, 2011. McDow is accused of providing an e-mail address and subsequently receiving a letter from the victim’s attorney indicating that the $110,000 erroneously deposited into the defendant’s account was a tax refund belonging to Michelle D. The defendant is accused of receiving instructions on transferring the money to the rightful owner.
On March 6, 2011, McDow is accused of e-mailing the victim’s attorney and stating that he had already spent most of the $110,000 on a car loan, student loan, and foreclosure debt. The defendant is accused of immediately spending the money, knowing the money did not belong to him and had been mistakenly deposited into his account. McDow is accused of spending over $65,000 of the victim’s money.
On March 16, 2011, Michelle D. mailed a certified letter to McDow with instructions for returning her money. The defendant is accused of failing to respond to the letter and ignoring several attempts by the victim to get her money back. After unsuccessfully attempting to contact the defendant, Michelle D. reported the theft to SAPD, who investigated this case.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.