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Examples of Identity Theft Schemes - Fiscal Year 2014

The following examples of identity theft schemes are written from public record documents on file in the courts within the judicial district where the cases were prosecuted.

Former Certified Nursing Assistant and Co-Conspirators Sentenced for Identity Theft Tax Scheme
On April 17, 2014, in Albany, Ga., Kimberly Banks, Donalene Mosley and Arneshia Austin were sentenced to serve 192 months, 37 months and 21 months in prison, respectively, for crimes relating to filing fraudulent income tax returns using stolen identities. After a weeklong jury trial, Banks was convicted on Jan. 14, 2014, of conspiring to file false federal income tax returns in the names of stolen identities, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and theft of government money. Mosely and Austin each pleaded guilty to conspiracy. In addition to their terms of imprisonment, the court ordered Banks, Mosley and Austin to pay $275,134 in restitution and to serve three years supervised release. According to court documents and evidence introduced at trial, Banks, who is a former certified nursing assistant, obtained the names and Social Security numbers of nursing home patients from her employer and conspired with Mosely, Austin and others to use the stolen identifying information to filing fraudulent tax returns. The tax returns were filed from internet protocol addresses assigned to Banks, and the fraudulent tax refunds were deposited onto prepaid debit cards that were mailed to addresses belonging to Banks, Mosely, Austin and others. During the course of the conspiracy, Banks and her co-conspirators prepared 187 fraudulent tax returns that claimed over $600,000 in false refunds.

New Jersey Man Sentenced for Scheme to File Fraudulent Tax Returns
On April 16, 2014, in Newark, N.J., Badatunde Olugbake, of Perth Amboy, N.J., was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $500,422 in restitution. Olugbake previously pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him mail fraud, filing false claims against the United States and receiving stolen government funds.  According to court documents, from February 2008 through December 2010, Olugbake was involved in a scheme to file false and fraudulent tax returns to obtain tax refund checks. Olugbake deposited more than $400,000 in tax refunds as part of that scheme into bank accounts he controlled. Through the unauthorized use of names and social security numbers of unsuspecting victims, along with false addresses, statements concerning income and dependents, and claims for refunds, Olugbake manipulated tax returns so that the purported claimants qualified for the Earned Income Credit. Olugbake then mailed the fraudulent returns to the IRS.

Arizona Men Sentenced for Role in Refund Fraud Scheme
On April 15, 2014, in Phoenix, Ariz., Joseph A. Murray and Samuel G. Hamilton were sentenced to 30 months and 24 months in prison, respectively, for their role in a tax refund scheme. The court also ordered Murray to pay $14,020 and Hamilton $8,208 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release. According to the court documents, both men participated with others in a scheme to obtain, and to aid others to obtain, the payment of refunds from the IRS through the preparation and filing of federal individual income tax returns that contained false and fictitious refund claims. Both men participated by providing names, social security numbers and dates of birth to other defendants for the purpose of filing false returns. The refunds were placed on prepaid debit cards and then the cash was withdrawn and distributed between the defendants and the purported taxpayer.  

Texans Sentenced in Massive Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
On April 14, 2014, in Dallas, Texas, George Ojonugwa, of Garland, Texas, and Eseos Igiebor, of Richardson, Texas, were sentenced to 174 months and 96 months, respectively. Ojonugwa was ordered to pay $15,979,187 in restitution and Igiebor was ordered to pay $9,660,658 in restitution. According to court documents and statements made in court, the defendants conspired to defraud the United States by using stolen identity information and false information to create and electronically file false tax returns to claim refunds. The defendants had the refunds credited to stored value cards or bank accounts opened with stolen taxpayer identity information. Late last year, co-defendants Ebenezer Legbedion, of Lagos, Nigeria, was sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution, and Evelyn Nyaboke Haley, of Dallas, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay approximately $5.7 million in restitution. Ojonugwa, Igiebor and Legbedion each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Igiebor also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft. Haley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims.

Man Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On April 14, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Jeffrey Alexander Martin, of Broward County, was sentenced to 99 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $197,088 in restitution. Martin and co-defendant Tobin Lamar Lyon, II, aka Tobe Kasa, of Charlotte, N.C., previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of aggravated identity theft. Lyon was sentenced on Jan. 6, 2014 to 72 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $118,602 in restitution. According to court documents, Lyon worked as a service representative for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF). As an employee of TIAA-CREF, Lyon had access to the names, addresses, social security numbers, and dates of birth of TIAA-CREF's clients. In anticipation of a share of the proceeds, Lyon provided Martin with personal identifying information belonging to individual clients of TIAA-CREF for the purpose of filing fraudulent tax returns claiming tax refunds in those clients' names. Lyon sent over 500 different identities to Martin. For the tax years 2011 and 2012, Martin sought approximately $304,611 in fraudulent refunds. Lyon knowingly possessed and transferred the victims' means of identification without authority.

Final Defendants Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On April 11, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Michael Ali Bryant, Sr., and his wife, Latina Rashawn Bryant, both of Lauderdale Lakes, were sentenced for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme. Michael Bryant was sentenced to 144 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Latina Bryant was sentenced to 48 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Michael Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices. Latina Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of using an unauthorized access device. According to court documents, Michael Bryant sold personal identity information (PII) to a confidential source (CS). The CS made a controlled purchase of ten pages (each page containing approximately 20 to 25 names) of PII. Bryant instructed the CS on how to commit tax fraud using the PII, and provided the CS with specific instructions on what information to enter into the web pages of the Internet-based tax services to obtain a tax refund. An examination of the PII revealed that it was from a medical services provider. Angela Dione Rosier was an employee of the medical services provider. Tiffany Shenae Cooper spoke to Rosier to obtain user names and passwords for current employees of the medical services provider. Cooper admitted to illegally logging on to the medical services provider’s computer network and downloading PII for the purpose of committing various types of fraud. She was assisted in her activities by Rosier and Marquis Onigirin Moye. Cooper and Rosier were sentenced on Feb. 28, 2014, to 57 months and 49 months in prison, respectively. Moye was sentenced on March 28, 2014 to 54 months in prison.

Florida Man Sentenced in Identity Theft Scheme
On April 9, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Jean-Elguentino Cayo, of Miami Gardens, was sentenced to 37 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Cayo previously pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud.  According to court documents, from December 2012 through June 2013, the defendant sold approximately 400 names, dates of birth and social security numbers belonging to other persons to a confidential informant and undercover law enforcement officer in exchange for money. The defendant had no authorization to traffic in the names, dates of births, and social security numbers belonging to other persons and acted with the intent to defraud.

Florida Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On April 8, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Roshawn Jermaine Davis was sentenced to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Davis previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, during a traffic stop of a vehicle Davis was driving, a bag was found containing pre-paid debit cards in other individuals’ names, together with over 150 pieces of personal identification information (PII) on handwritten sheets of paper, printouts, and patient information sheets from doctors’ offices. Some of the sheets had handwritten notes indicating dollar amounts, routing numbers, and account numbers. Fraudulent tax returns were filed for the 2011 tax year on behalf of at least sixteen individuals whose PII was found in the defendant’s bag.

Defendant Sentenced on Federal Charges
On April 7, 2014, in Phoenix, Ariz., Daniel David Rigmaiden, formerly of Santa Clara, Calif., was sentenced to 68 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Restitution of over $395,000 was satisfied by the forfeiture and abandonment of Rigmaiden’s seized assets totaling over $470,000. Rigmaiden pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. According to court documents, in the fall of 2007, IRS began to detect a significant number of possibly related fraudulent tax returns. In August 2008, evidence from search warrants revealed a sophisticated scheme to obtain $5.2 million in tax refunds in the names of innocent third parties and deceased individuals. Rigmaiden had anonymously operated through the use of third-party computers throughout the United States. He acquired identity information of deceased and living individuals, including their social security numbers, and used that information to conduct a complex electronic bulk tax filing scheme. Up until Rigmaiden’s arrest and identification through fingerprint analysis, his true identity was unknown to the investigation team.

Mother and Son Sentenced for Tax Conspiracy
On April 3, 2014, in Detroit, Mich., Valerie Butler, and her son, Garry Young Jr. were sentenced to 18 months and 12 months and a day in prison, respectively. Both will also serve three years of supervised release and jointly pay $1,079,201 in restitution to the IRS. In November 2013, Butler and Young pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obtain payment of a claim against the United States government. According to court records, beginning in early 2009, for the tax year 2008, and continuing into tax year 2010, Butler and Young conspired to work together to submit a total of 299 false returns, which generated refunds of more than $1 million. Butler and Young attempted to hide their involvement by failing to sign the returns as preparers. Butler and Young obtained information about individuals who were deceased, and used that information to create false returns claiming fraudulent refunds. Butler and Young had all of the refund money deposited to bank accounts that they controlled. They split the refund money with some of the taxpayers, but most of the taxpayers never received any of the refunds.

Florida Tax Fraudster Sentenced to Prison
On April 1, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Kesham Evans Jr. was sentenced to 24 months in prison and one year of supervised release. Evans pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2014, to one count of aggravated identity theft charged in connection with the cashing of two fraudulent United States Treasury checks. According to court documents, on two occasions in July 2013, Evans sold a United States Treasury check, at a discounted price, to undercover law enforcement agents. These Treasury checks were issued as a result of tax returns filed in the names of individuals who were victims of identity theft. They had a total face value of more than $25,000. At least one of the victims confirmed that he did not file a tax return and that the Treasury check issued in his name was fraudulent. The victim did not know Evans nor did he authorize Evans to endorse a check issued in his name.   

Florida Man Sentenced for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
On March 31, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Alexander Lenox was sentenced to 90 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $481,723 in restitution to the IRS. Lenox pleaded guilty on Dec. 31, 2013 to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Lenox engaged in stolen identity refund fraud from April 2009 to May 2011, with two co-conspirators. Specifically, in May 2011, Lenox was responsible for renting two hotel rooms where lists of identifying information and prepaid debit cards containing fraudulently-obtained tax refunds were found. Also found in both rooms were medical records that had been stolen from a veterans hospital. Lenox was later captured by surveillance video at various locations withdrawing money from the debit cards with the fraudulently-obtained tax refunds on them. Lenox was found responsible for fraudulent tax returns requesting more than $400,000 of government funds and victimizing more than fifty people. Lenox’s co-conspirators, James Early Smiley and Hantz Saint Marc, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this case. On Aug. 12, 2013, Smiley was sentenced to 61 months in federal prison and Saint Marc is awaiting sentencing.

Defendant Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On March 28, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Marquis Onigirin Moye, of Pompano Beach, Fla., was sentenced to 54 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Moye previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices and one count of aggravated identity theft. Co-defendants Tiffany Shenae Cooper and Angela Dione Rosier have already been sentenced to 57 months and 49 months in prison, respectively, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $129,390 in restitution. Co-defendant Michael Ali Bryant, Sr., and his wife Latina Rashawn Bryant, previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. According to court documents, Michael Bryant sold personal identity information (PII) to a confidential source (CS). The CS made a controlled purchase of ten pages (each page containing approximately 20 to 25 names) of PII. Bryant instructed the CS on how to commit tax fraud using the PII, and provided the CS with specific instructions on what information to enter into the web pages of the Internet-based tax services to obtain a tax refund. An examination of the PII revealed that it was from a medical services provider. Rosier was an employee of the medical services provider. Cooper spoke to Rosier to obtain user names and passwords for current employees of the medical services provider. Cooper admitted to illegally logging on to the medical services provider’s computer network and downloading PII for the purpose of committing various types of fraud. She was assisted in her activities by Rosier and Moye.

Florida Woman Sentenced for Several Fraud Schemes
On March 26, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Latasha Callens was sentenced to 149 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $223,798 money judgment. Callens pleaded guilty on Dec. 3, 2013 to bank fraud, access device fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.  According to court documents and statements made in court, from as early as July 2011 through her arrest in May 2013, Callens defrauded banks and individuals on at least 58 occasions during a two-year period. In one of her schemes, Callens approached individuals, usually at ATMs, and told them about her need to cash a check and her inability to deposit the check into her bank account. She then convinced the individuals to deposit the checks into their own accounts and withdraw the funds for her. She sometimes gave them $100 for their trouble. In each case, the checks were worthless. They were generally drawn on closed accounts, because the checks and checkbooks had been stolen.  In another scheme, for the tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012, Callen defrauded the IRS and certain taxpayers by electronically filing false and fraudulent tax returns, using stolen identities and, thereby, obtaining refunds. She sought approximately $800,000 in fraudulent tax returns.

Florida Man Sentenced for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
On March 24, 2014, in Fort Myers, Fla., Fred Kevin Johnson was sentenced to 34 months in prison.  Johnson pleaded guilty on Jan. 7, 2014 to possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft.  According to court documents, on Oct. 2, 2012, Johnson was stopped in a vehicle for traffic violations in Lee County, Fla.  A subsequent search of his vehicle revealed that Johnson possessed multiple notebooks containing the Personal Identification Information (PII) of more than 100 individuals. Some of the PII was used to file fraudulent tax returns. The fraudulent returns were filed without the knowledge of the individuals whose PII was used by Johnson.

Leader of Scheme to Defraud IRS Using Stolen Puerto Rican Identities Sentenced
On March 24, 2014, in Manhattan, N.Y., Carolos Jose Luis, aka Jose Quilestorres, was sentenced 108 months in prison. In May 2013, Jose Luis pleaded guilty in New York to one count of each of: conspiracy to steal government funds, stealing government funds, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to submit false claims to the United States, and submitting false claims to the United States. In November 2013, Jose Luis also pleaded guilty to similar charges in New Jersey and the current sentence is based on both cases. According to court documents, Jose Luis operated a tax refund fraud mill from an apartment. Between January 2011 and September 2012, Jose Luis fraudulently claimed more than $10 million in IRS tax refund checks. To fraudulently obtain the refund checks, Jose Luis would unlawfully obtain identifying information of Puerto Rican citizens. Their stolen identities would then be used to claim large refunds from the federal government. Many of the checks were sent to addresses where a Postal Service employee was stealing United States mail containing tax refund checks. The checks generated by the fraudulent returns filed by Jose Luis were then cashed by other individuals.

Woman Sentenced for Fraudulent Tax Scheme
On March 20, 2014, in Richmond, Va., Virginia Parks-Bert, of Parkville, Md., was sentenced to 42 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $135,835 in restitution to the IRS. Parks-Bert pleaded guilty on Oct. 23, 2013, to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims and aggravated identity theft.  According to court documents, from February 2010 to May 2011, Parks-Bert obtained false tax return refunds by submitting false claims for herself and others.  Parks-Bert included false W-2 employer, wages, and tax withholding amount information on these returns. She and her co-conspirators then directed the false refunds to be deposited into bank accounts that they controlled. In total, Parks-Bert filed at least 57 false federal tax returns claiming $260,270 in refunds that the named taxpayers were not entitled to claim.  Moreover, on March 31, 2010, Parks-Bert filed a tax return using the name and Social Security number of an individual whom she knew was deceased.

Georgia Woman Sentenced for Role in Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On March 19, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga., Carla L. Jefferson was sentenced to 40 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $2,500,000 in restitution to the IRS. Jefferson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to court documents, Jefferson owned and operated CLR Tax Service and Asendi Tax Service, tax preparation businesses located in Palmdale, Calif. Jefferson and others obtained personal identifying information, including names and social security numbers, from individuals through misleading means such as the use of toll-free telephone numbers and web sites. Jefferson and others would lead individuals to believe they could obtain "stimulus payments" from the government. Unbeknownst to the individuals, Jefferson and others filed false and fraudulent income tax returns in the individual's names. The tax returns contains false information, including claimed income amounts, student credits, earned income credits. The tax returns contained signatures of individuals that were cut and transferred from other documents onto the returns. The defendants typically kept about half of the refund, while paying the other half to the individual whose name they had used to file the fraudulent tax return.

Former State Inmate Sentenced for Leading Tax Fraud Scheme
On March 18, 2014, in Birmingham, Ala., Shermaine German was sentenced to 66 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $788,280 in restitution to the government. German pleaded guilty in December 2013 to a tax conspiracy. German, now paroled from state prison, was an inmate at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer when he orchestrated the tax scheme. According to court documents, from January 2008 to May 2013, while an inmate at Donaldson, German obtained the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of other people, often fellow inmates. He used their information to create false income tax returns that contained fabricated amounts of tax withholdings. German also created false power of attorney forms, which he mailed out of the prison along with the false income tax returns. Various other members of the conspiracy notarized the power of attorney forms and used them to cash or deposit income tax refund checks received as part of the scheme.

Five Defendants Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud and Access Device Fraud Schemes
On March 18, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Alex Dontfred, David Tilus, Sherika Rowe, Fritznel Etienne, and Latonya Ware, all of Lauderhill, were sentenced for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme and an access device fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of over $137,000 in fraudulent tax refund claims and over $49,000 in unauthorized access device purchases. Dontfred was sentenced to 46 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $49,561 and to pay $45,711 in restitution. Tilus was sentenced on March 10, 2014 to 70 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $188,322 in restitution. Rowe was sentenced on March 13, 2014 to 45 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $136,538 money judgment and to pay $136,535 in restitution. Etienne was sentenced on March 14, 2014 to 34 months in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $11,204 money judgment and to pay $3,844 in restitution. Latonya Ware was sentenced on March 10, 2014 to 34 months in prison, three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $136,535 money judgment and to pay $136,535 in restitution. Dontfred pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and access device fraud. Tilus pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Rowe pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Etienne pleaded guilty to one count each of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Latonya Ware pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Latonya Ware stole patients' names and social security numbers from a medical office where she worked, and gave the information to Tilus and her cousin, Andrew Ware. Rowe electronically filed fraudulent tax returns utilizing the victims’ names and social security numbers. The fraudulent refunds from these returns were loaded onto prepaid debit cards that Tilus and Andrew Ware used to purchase gift cards and other merchandise from retail stores.  Additionally, Andrew Ware, Tilus, Henry, Dontfred and Etienne obtained credit card numbers from various victims and used stolen access devices to purchase merchandise, gift cards and prepaid debit cards for later use. The total amount of fraudulent charges made or attempted to be made utilizing the stolen credit cards is $49,561. Co-defendant Andrew Ware is awaiting sentencing.

Leader of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Ring Sentenced 
On March 13, 2014, in Montgomery, Ala., Christopher Davis was sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $300,559, which represented the proceeds of his offenses. Davis previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents and evidence from the sentencing, Davis was the leader of a multi-state tax fraud conspiracy that operated by filing false tax returns using stolen identities. Davis obtained personal identifying information from different sources, including a medical facility in Alabama. He and Kenneth Blackmon would then file false tax returns using the stolen identities and direct the fraudulently claimed tax refunds to be deposited onto prepaid debit cards. Davis recruited Blackmon and several other individuals involved in the conspiracy to act as paid runners to help with obtaining the refund money. Davis and Blackmon, who both lived in Alabama, would organize trips to Georgia and South Carolina during which the runners would use the debit cards loaded with fraudulently obtained tax refunds to make cash withdrawals at numerous locations across both states, and then provide the cash to Davis and Blackmon.  The runners would also buy new debit cards for use in the ongoing scheme. In his plea agreement, Davis admitted that at one point during the scheme he had over 600 stolen identities and 200 prepaid debit cards with him in Georgia. Blackmon was sentenced in April 2013 to 51 months in prison.

Georgia Man Sentenced for Filing Tax Returns
On March 12, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga., Yafait Tadesse was senenced to 12 months and one day in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $4,014 in restitution to the IRS. Tadesse pleaded guilty on Nov. 13, 2013, to theft of government funds. According to court documents, from November 2012 through April 2013, Tadesse and co-defendant Eyaso Abebe carried out a scheme to obtain the names and social security numbers of unsuspecting victims from various websites and use this information on false tax returns that claimed fraudulent refunds. The tax returns falsely claimed that the victims earned similar wage and withholding amounts and worked at Wal-Mart.  The returns all claimed fraudulent refunds that were to be loaded onto pre-paid debit cards.  These pre-paid debit cards listed Tadesse’s apartment complex in Carrollton, Ga., as the mailing address. The defendants obtained their victims’ information from publicly available websites that publicize the names, social security numbers, and other personally identifying information of unsuspecting individuals. Eyaso Abebe, pleaded guilty on Oct. 16, 2013, to theft of government funds and will be sentenced at a later date.

Louisiana Tax Preparer Sentenced for Filing Hundreds of False Tax Returns
On March 12, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La., Ashley D. Ricks-Stampley was sentenced to 81 months in prison and three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $699,734 in restitution to the IRS and $11,138 to the Louisiana Department of Revenue. During her guilty plea hearing, Ricks-Stampley admitted to defrauding the IRS by submitting hundreds of false tax returns in the names of other individuals, without their knowledge or consent, for the purpose of receiving thousands of dollars in tax refunds. The applications falsely represented that the individuals had worked for various companies during 2010 and 2011 and were eligible for income tax refunds. In fact, these individuals had not worked for or earned wages from the companies reflected in the fraudulent tax returns. From about September 2011 through about July 2012, Ricks-Stampley filed approximately 563 false federal returns, via an internet tax program, claiming refunds totaling approximately $733,685. Additionally, Ricks-Stampley filed over 56 false Louisiana State tax returns claiming refunds totaling approximately $14,625.

Georgia Man Sentenced In Identity Theft Scheme
On March 10, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga., Bradford Thomas, of Cobb County, Ga., was sentenced to 121 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,663,035 in restitution to the IRS. Thomas was also ordered to forfeit his interest in the cash, weapons, jewelry, and luxury automobiles found at his business and residence. Thomas pleaded guilty on Nov. 22, 2013, to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to information presented in court, from January 2010 through May 2013, Thomas orchestrated a scheme to file over 1,200 false tax returns using the names and Social Security numbers of various victims, many of whom were incarcerated in jails or prisons throughout the country. These false tax returns claimed over $5.5 million in fraudulent tax refunds which were directed to be deposited into bank accounts controlled by Thomas or individuals working with him.

Final Defendants Sentenced in Stolen Identity and Tax Fraud Scheme  
On March 6, 2014, in Statesboro, Ga., Tidaesha V. Taylor, of College Park, Ga., and Gregory F. Smith, Jr., of Stone Mountain, Ga., was sentenced to 75 months and 95 months in prison, respectively. In addition, they were ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $208,231 in restitution. Both pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  In total, 13 individuals were charged, convicted, and sentenced in a scheme to steal identities and submit false tax returns that cost the American taxpayers over $1 million in bogus tax refunds. In 2013, Taylor and Smith, along with 11 others, were indicted on charges ranging from a conspiracy to defraud the IRS to identity theft.  According to evidence presented during guilty plea and sentencing hearings, these defendants stole personal identifiers, such as names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, from medical records and other sources, which they then used to submit fraudulent tax returns in order to obtain tax refunds to which they were not entitled. The other eleven defendants in this scheme have been sentenced to terms ranging from 154 months to 32 months in prison.

Former VA Employee Sentenced for Theft of Veterans’ Personal Information
On March 6, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., David F. Lewis was sentenced to 72 months in prison and ordered to pay a $105,271 money judgment. Lewis pleaded guilty on Dec. 10, 2013 to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents and testimony presented in court, Lewis was an employee at the Tampa VA Medical Center. On at least five different dates in 2012, Lewis accessed and printed the personal information, including names, social security numbers, and medical information, of over 100 veterans who were in-patients at the medical center. Lewis then gave these documents to someone else in exchange for crack cocaine, knowing that the veterans’ information would be used by others to file fraudulent tax returns in order to fraudulently obtain tax refunds, and in at least one instance, to apply for lines of credit in the veteran’s name.

Honduran National Sentenced for Conspiring to File False Tax Refund Claims and Aggravated Identity Theft
On March 6, 2014, in Raleigh, N.C., Salvador Serrano Portillo, a non-resident Honduran national, was sentenced to 51 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $156,107 in restitution. On Oct. 4, 2013, Portillo pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States through the filing of fraudulent federal tax refund claims and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Portillo illegally entered the United States from Honduras in 2001 and settled in the Clinton, N.C. area. Portillo purchased stolen identifying papers, including a Social Security card and a birth certificate, for an individual Portillo knew to be an actual person residing in North Carolina at the time. Portillo assumed this individual’s identity to, among other things, obtain employment and health insurance, open bank accounts, and make international wire transfers. Between 2011 and 2013, Portillo and others conspired to file false federal income tax returns using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs).  An ITIN is a nine-digit number that enables resident and nonresident alien taxpayers who are ineligible for a Social Security number to file federal income tax returns.  As part of the conspiracy, Portillo and others used fraudulent identifying papers, such as Honduran passports, birth certificates, and school records, to apply for and obtain ITINs for individuals who did not reside or work in the United States.  The false ITIN information was used, in turn, to file federal income tax returns reporting bogus tax refund claims.

New Jersey Tax Preparer Sentenced for Preparing Fraudulent Tax Returns and Identity Theft
On March 6, 2014, in Newark, N.J., John Perez, of Paterson, N.J., was sentenced to 40 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine. Perez was also ordered to never prepare tax returns for others again. On Oct. 2, 2013, Perez, the owner of Perez Enterprises, a commercial tax preparation business pleaded guilty to a two-count information that charged him with theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Perez operated the commercial tax preparation business out of his residence. Between March 2008 and September 2010, Perez engaged in a scheme whereby he utilized the personal identifying information of his tax preparation clients as well as other individuals to file fraudulent tax returns. Perez prepared and filed these fraudulent federal tax returns on behalf of these individuals without their knowledge and consent. Perez listed false information on these returns such as wages and tax withholdings in order to obtain tax refunds to which neither the individuals nor he were entitled to receive. Perez kept the tax refunds and used the money for his own personal gain. In total, Perez prepared and filed tax returns that generated approximately $123,521 in fraudulent refunds.

Oregon Man Sentenced for Tax Refund Fraud
On March 4, 2014, in Portland, Ore., Ricky Lee Greenwood was sentenced to 40 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $296,106 in restitution to the IRS. In October 2013, Greenwood pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and filing a false, fictitious, or fraudulent claim against the government. According to court documents, Greenwood electronically filed at least 66 false tax returns with fictitious wage and false dependent information, requesting more than $300,000 in fraudulent refunds. Greenwood obtained the names and Social Security numbers of unemployed individuals in order to file fraudulent tax returns in their names.  Greenwood also obtained the social security numbers of children and claimed them on the tax returns of unrelated individuals to maximize refundable credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit, and further inflate the fraudulent refunds.  

Florida Man Sentenced for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
On March 4, 2014, in Fort Myers, Fla., Patrick Robinson was sentenced to 48 months in prison. Robinson pleaded guilty on Sept. 25, 2013 to charges of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, on Feb. 28, 2012, Robinson was stopped for speeding in a vehicle, in Lee County, Fla. A subsequent search of his vehicle recovered two laptop computers, a thumb drive, numerous Wal-Mart Money Cards and a Green Dot debit card. Each card was wrapped in a piece of paper that had a name, routing number, account number and tax refund amount handwritten on it. Approximately 232 separate identities were found on the thumb drive. Robinson admitted that he had been committing tax refund fraud for approximately six months. He used stolen victim identifiers contained on the thumb drive to file fraudulent tax returns, using an online tax program. Robinson requested the tax return refund money from the fraudulent returns to be placed on the purchased Wal-Mart Money and Green Dot cards.  

Three Sentenced In Orange County Health Department Identity Theft Scheme
On March 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., Delray Duncan, Gerald Williams, and Shanterica Smith were sentenced to 42 months, 54 months, and 60 months in prison, respectively. All three were also ordered to pay $1 million in restitution. Each defendant previously pleaded guilty to identity theft. According to court documents, an investigation was initiated after the Orange County Sheriff’s Office executed an unrelated search warrant and discovered a list of names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. Further investigation revealed that Williams and Smith worked at the Orange County Health Department (OCHD).  Williams and Smith accessed personal identifying information (PII) of OCHD patients and provided that information to a third party who filed fraudulent tax returns in the names of those patients. Williams provided the PII to Duncan who, in turn, provided the PII to others in order to file the fraudulent tax returns. Smith provided the PII directly to those responsible for filing fraudulent tax returns. In total, Williams and Smith stole the identities of approximately 2,200 patients. Fraudulent tax returns totaling approximately $3.9 million were filed using the stolen PII.     

Florida Couple Sentenced for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
On Feb. 27, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Tressa V. Guy was sentenced to 121 months in prison, and her husband, Brian E. Simmons was sentenced to 192 months in prison. As part of their sentence, the court entered a  $790,421 money judgment against each, as well as $790,421 in restitution. Guy pleaded guilty on Oct. 16, 2013 to conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Simmons pleaded guilty on Nov. 26, 2013 to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Guy, Simmons and others orchestrated a scheme to defraud the United States Treasury by causing fraudulent federal income tax returns to be filed using stolen identities, and soliciting personal identifying information and addresses from co-conspirators in Florida and Georgia. To facilitate the scheme, the conspirators coordinated the withdrawal of fraudulently obtained tax refund amounts from prepaid debit cards. The identities used to file the fraudulent tax returns in this scheme belonged to individuals living in various states across the country. As part of the conspiracy, at least 322 federal income tax returns for tax year 2011 were filed claiming refunds of $2,701,844.

Georgia Woman Sentenced for Role in Identity Theft Scam
On Feb. 26, 2014, in Augusta, Ga., Lasandra Whitfield was sentenced to 36 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $33,162 in restitution. Whitfield pleaded guilty on Aug. 23, 2013 to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims involving fraudulent tax returns and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, between 2009 and 2011, Whitfield and her co-defendants received refunds from the United States Treasury based on tax returns that contained one or more false statements. The returns were filed using the names and personal information of patients from two healthcare facilities in Georgia and claimed refunds based on fraudulent Georgia Lotto Form W-2G winnings. The defendants filed 90 fraudulent, false, or fictitious tax returns totaling over $500,000 in refunds.

Texan Sentenced for Role in Tax Refund Fraud Conspiracy
On Feb. 26, 2014, in Dallas, Texas, Cephas Msipa, of Plano, Texas, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay $118,139 in restitution. Msipa will be deported back to Zimbabwe after he serves his sentence. Msipa pleaded guilty in August 2013 to one count of conspiracy stemming from his role in a tax refund fraud scheme. According to the factual resume, Jan. 5, 2012 until June 2012, Msipa conspired to obtain tax refunds through the submission of fraudulent tax returns. Msipa opened bank accounts, using a false name, in order to receive the refunds from the fraudulently filed tax returns. Msipa used a forged United Kingdom passport to establish a private mail box at a postal store in Dallas. He then used this false name and the mailbox address to open several bank accounts. During this time frame, co-conspirators electronically filed approximately 105 fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities and false income information that directed the IRS to deposit a total of $118,139 in refunds into his bank accounts. In a related case, Elijah Meskano pleaded guilty to the same offense in May 2013. According to court documents, Meskano also opened bank accounts using a false name to receive refunds from fraudulently filed tax returns from Dec. 22, 2011, through Nov. 29, 2012. According to a complaint filed in Meskano’s case, he and Msipa were roommates and lived in Plano. Meskano is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.

Defendant Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme
On Feb. 25, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Wendy Sands, of Opa-Locka, was sentenced to 26 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Sands previously pleaded guilty to one count of possessing fifteen or more unauthorized access devices with the intent to defraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, on Jan. 16, 2013, Sands met with a confidential source unaware the confidential source was working for the government. During the meeting, Sands provided the confidential source with documents that contained personal identifying information, including names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, for approximately 64 stolen identities. Sands knew that these stolen identities belonged to real people and that the victims did not authorize her to possess their personal information. Sands also knew that the stolen personal identifying information would be used to file fraudulent tax returns.

Tax Return Preparer Sentenced for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
On Feb. 21, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Kenyon Lamont Williams was sentenced to 180 months prison, ordered to pay $1,013,285 in restitution to the IRS and a money judgment in the amount of $1,575,304.  Williams was found guilty after a jury trial on Nov. 1, 2013 to aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.  According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Williams worked in San Diego, Calif., as a certified tax return preparer. In early 2011, Williams opened his own tax preparation service, which he operated out of his residence. On Jan. 25, 2012, Williams called his friend and fellow tax return preparer, Alesia Spivey, who lived in Tampa. Williams solicited information from Spivey regarding methods to increase refunds. Spivey and Carlista Hawls, another co-conspirator, explained to Williams that individuals in Tampa were using a particular interest income scheme to file bogus tax returns with the IRS. Spivey advised Williams on how to fill out the tax returns to employ this interest income scheme. Between Jan. 25 and July 19, 2012, Williams prepared and filed 168 fraudulent tax returns for tax year 2011, using bogus interest income figures provided by Spivey and Hawls. In addition, during this time period, Williams filed several hundred more tax returns from San Diego, employing other fraudulent claims to obtain refunds from the IRS. On March 2, 2012, Spivey and Hawls flew to San Diego to meet with Williams. During the trip, Williams provided Spivey and Hawls with a list of names, dates of birth, and social security numbers for purposes of preparing and filing fraudulent tax returns in Tampa. Most of the individuals on the list were homeless, unemployed or incarcerated. Spivey and Hawls used the list to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS. Williams was arrested in January 2013, and released on bond with various conditions, including that he could not prepare or file tax returns for any third parties. Within two weeks of his release, Williams began filing tax returns for the 2013 tax season. By April 2013, he had filed 381 tax returns, most of which were fraudulent. Upon discovery, the court revoked Williams’s bond and he remained detained pending trial.

Two Defendants Sentenced in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme
On Feb. 21, 2014, in Miami Fla., Angelo Ponds, of Miami Gardens, and Sean Guillaume, of Miramar, were sentenced to 48 months and 94 months in prison, respectively, and three years of supervised release.  Both defendants previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Guillaume worked for a company that performed medical laboratory tests where he had access to medical records containing names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of individuals. During the conspiracy, Guillaume stole personal information of five thousand individuals’ from the company and sold it to Ponds. Guillaume knew that Ponds would use the information for the filing of fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns. Ponds caused other individuals to file false and fraudulent tax returns with the IRS seeking refunds using the information provided by Guillaume.

Alabama Family Sentenced for Identity Theft Scheme
On Feb. 20, 2014, in Montgomery, Ala., Mary Young and her husband, Christian Young, were sentenced to 87 and 70 months in prison, respectively. Her son, Octavious Reeves, was sentenced on Feb. 19, 2014 to 51 months in prison. The Youngs pleaded guilty in November 2013 to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. Reeves pleaded guilty in February 2013 to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.  In addition to prison time, all three defendants will serve three years of supervised release. Mary and Christian Young were each ordered to pay  $415,070 in restitution and Reeves was ordered to pay $42,257 in restitution.  According to court documents, between January 2010 and June 2012, Mary Young, Christian Young, Octavious Reeves and others obtained stolen identities from individuals and used this information to file false tax returns.  The false tax returns were filed from the Youngs’ residence and the conspirators directed the false tax refunds to prepaid debit cards in the names of the identity theft victims. Both Youngs and Reeves used the prepaid debit cards to withdraw the fraudulent proceeds.

Alabama Bank Employee Sentenced for Tax Refund Fraud
On Feb. 19, 2014 in Montgomery, Ala., LaQuanta Clayton was sentenced to 21 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $185,730 in restitution. Clayton pleaded guilty in July 2013 to theft of government property. According to court documents and statements made in open court, Clayton used her position as a bank teller to open bank accounts in the name of another individual without his knowledge. Tarrish Tellis, the leader of the tax-fraud ring, directed Clayton to open multiple bank accounts in order to receive electronic deposits of fraudulent tax refunds. Tellis pleaded guilty to related crimes in October 2013. Clayton would facilitate the withdrawal of this money and give it to Tellis and other individuals involved in the scheme. Clayton opened at least five bank accounts, which she used to receive fraudulent tax refunds.  

Colorado Man Sentenced in Identity Theft Scheme
On Feb. 18, 2014, in Denver, Colo., Randall V. Heath, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was sentenced to 84 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $179,756 in restitution. Heath previously pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and false claims against the government. According to the plea agreement, in August 2010, Heath stole records consisting of personal information of clients from College Consultant Group, Inc. after the business had ceased operations. Heath used the records to engage in a variety of identity theft-related activities, to include production of counterfeit driver’s licenses and counterfeit government photo identifications. With this information Heath filed false 2010 tax returns, in the victims’ names.  As part of the scheme, he also created false Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statements.  Heath received fraudulent refunds ranging from $7,000 to $23,000 for each of the false claims filed.

Tax Return Preparer Sentenced in Fraud and Identity Theft Scheme
On Feb. 18, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga., Bernando O. Davis, of Stockbridge, Ga., was sentenced to 259 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $7 million in restitution. A jury convicted Davis on Dec. 12, 2013, of one count of conspiracy, 15 counts of wire fraud and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft. According to information presented in court, from approximately July 2010 to January 2013, Davis operated Davis Tax Service, a tax preparation business in Clayton County, Ga. Davis, working with others, including Kevin J. Sonnier and Carla L. Jefferson, led thousands of victims to believe that they could apply for “government stimulus payments” or “free government money” by providing their names and Social Security numbers. Davis and his co-conspirators acquired names from a variety of sources, including prisons and homeless shelters. In actuality, no stimulus program existed, and Davis and his co-conspirators instead used the victims’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns that claimed a total of over $19 million in bogus refunds. On the returns, Davis claimed false income amounts and student credits to generate the bogus tax refunds. In many of the returns, Davis directed the IRS to pay the refund amounts to bank accounts controlled by him or his co-conspirators. The victims did not know that Davis had filed tax returns in their names. The scheme affected over 15,000 victims in virtually every state across the country. Federal agencies executed a search warrant at a business location in February 2013. There they found numerous lists of names, Social Security numbers, and birth dates of victims which were used to file tax returns. They also found tax forms with victims’ signatures taped onto the forms to make it look like the victims had authorized the tax returns. In reality, Davis and his co-conspirators had cut the signatures from the “stimulus” applications and taped them to the tax forms to make their business appear legitimate. Sonnier, of Ellenwood, Ga. was sentenced to 104 months in prison and ordered to pay $7 million in restitution, and to forfeit his interest in 17 separate pieces of real estate, thousands of dollars that were previously seized from his bank accounts, and other personal items previously seized by the government.

Alaska Man Sentenced for Filing False Claims for Refunds and Aggravated Identity Theft
On Feb. 18, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska, Michael Lee Sexton was sentenced to 80 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $110,698 in restitution and a $110,698 money judgment. Sexton pleaded guilty on Dec. 6, 2013 to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to tax refund claims, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, between January 2010 and January 2012, Sexton and co-conspirators prepared and submitted approximately 100 false tax returns claiming refunds of over $200,000. Sexton conspired with his co-defendants Steve McComb and Paulando Williams, both inmates, to obtain the names and social security numbers of individuals, many of whom were also inmates at correctional facilities. McComb and Williams provided that information to Sexton and another co-defendant, Helen Maloney, to prepare and file false individual income tax returns. Sexton's co-defendants have been sentenced to the following terms. McComb was sentenced on Aug. 22, 2013 to 108 months in prison; Williams was sentenced on Nov. 6, 2013 to 66 months in prison; and Maloney was sentenced on July 2, 2013 to 28 months in prison.

Wisconsin Man Sentenced for Stolen Identity Theft Fraud Scheme
On Feb. 13, 2014, in Madison, Wis., Jason T. Procknow, of Exeland, Wis., was sentenced to 72 months in prison and ordered to pay $42,646 in restitution to the IRS. According to court documents, Procknow sent blank forms to prison inmates, promising them assistance with their legal difficulties. The forms required the inmates to provide personal identifying information, including social security numbers. Procknow then used the identity and social security numbers of the inmates to file fraudulent tax returns, directing the tax refunds to be directly deposited to his personal bank account.

Louisiana Woman Sentenced for Identity Theft
On Feb. 12, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La., Mona Hill was sentenced to 65 months in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $491,268 in restitution. Hill pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to the plea agreement, from on or about January 2012 through on or about July 2012, Hill, the owner and operator of Mona's Dependable Tax Service, LLC, defrauded the IRS by submitting false tax returns in the names of other individuals for the purpose of receiving thousands in tax refunds. Hill accomplished the scheme by fraudulently obtaining the names and personal identifying information, including social security numbers, of individuals without their knowledge or consent. Using the information, Hill submitted false income tax returns to the IRS electronically via an Internet tax program. The applications falsely represented that the individuals had worked for various companies during 2011 and were eligible for income tax refunds. In fact, these individuals had not worked for, or earned wages from, the companies reflected in the fraudulent tax returns, nor had the victims authorized the defendant to submit any such returns on their behalf. Hill caused the fraudulently obtained tax return refunds to be directly deposited to her bank account or to other bank accounts she controlled, or mailed by check to addresses she controlled, thereby gaining control of the funds. Hill then used these fraudulently obtained funds for her own personal use and benefit. Hill submitted approximately 488 false tax returns, falsely claiming refunds totaling approximately $661,258.

Leader of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme Sentenced
On Feb. 10, 2014, in Alexandria, Va., Leurys Antonio Olivo, of the Bronx, N.Y., was sentenced to 60 months in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $42,175 in restitution to the United States Treasury. Olivo pleaded guilty on Nov. 21, 2013, to conspiracy to defraud the government and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Olivo, who is an illegal alien and a citizen of the Dominican Republic, organized and led a stolen identity refund fraud scheme from his base of operations in the Bronx. He obtained stolen names, social security numbers and dates of birth of real people from sources in Puerto Rico. Olivo then caused others to file fraudulent tax returns on behalf of the identity theft victims, and caused the IRS to mail refund checks to addresses under his or his co-conspirators’ control. Olivo sought to expand his scheme into Virginia, and as part of that effort, he sold two fraudulently obtained refund checks to an undercover agent in Woodbridge, Va.  Olivo also recruited a co-conspirator, Juan-Alexis Lima-Castillo, to cash fraudulently obtained refund checks for him in Virginia. Lima-Castillo previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to two months in prison. In total, Olivo caused the IRS to issue at least $351,934 in refund checks.

Leader of Large-Scale Identity Theft Ring Sentenced for Role in Fraud Enterprise  
On Feb. 11, 2014, in Newark, N.J., Sang-Hyun Park, of Palisades Park, N.J., was sentenced to 144 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to pay $4,774,116 in restitution. He will also be deported upon his release from prison. Park previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and false identification documents, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the IRS. According to court documents, Park was the leader of a criminal organization (the “Park Criminal Enterprise”) headquartered in Bergen County, N.J., that obtained, brokered, and sold identity documents to customers for the purpose of committing credit card fraud, bank fraud and tax fraud. As part of the scheme, the Park Criminal Enterprise obtained social security cards beginning with the prefix “586” which were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, employed in American territories. The Park Criminal Enterprise sold the cards to its customers and then took steps assist these customers to obtain fraudulent identification cards and driver’s licenses, build fraudulent credit scores and open bank accounts and credit cards. Park relied on several collusive merchants who possessed credit card processing machines and who would, for a fee, charge the fraudulently obtained credit cards, although no transaction took place. After receiving the money into their merchant accounts from the credit card related to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his conspirators. Park laundered portions of the money he obtained through the fraud by wiring the money to various accounts in South Korea. Park defrauded various credit card companies, banks, and lenders out of $4 million. He and his conspirators also claimed more than $182,000 in tax refunds from the IRS through the filing of false and fictitious tax returns and accompanying documents.

New Jersey Woman Sentenced for Conspiring to Defraud the United States
On Feb. 10, 2014, in Newark, N.J., Jahmeelah Mitchell, of South Plainfield, N.J., was sentenced to 44 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,082,638 in restitution. Mitchell previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. According to court documents, between April 2008 and August 2011, Mitchell and others advised numerous people that they could receive tax refunds of several thousand dollars each by filing fraudulent federal tax returns. The scheme involved reporting inflated amounts of income and taxes withheld, which resulted in artificially inflated tax refunds. Mitchell and her conspirators instructed others to provide Mitchell with names, social security numbers, dates of birth, number of dependents and addresses. After obtaining this information, Mitchell electronically filed the fraudulent tax returns using Internet-based software from Mitchell’s residence. Mitchell received the tax refunds in the form of either United States Treasury checks or prepaid debit cards deposited into various accounts Mitchell established in the names of her conspirators. Mitchell retained a percentage of the refunds as her fee for filing the fraudulent returns. On August 22, 2011, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Mitchell’s residence and recovered ledgers containing identifying information for approximately 100 individuals, as well as a stack of prepaid credit cards issued in the names of dozens of people. Subsequent analysis of this information revealed that a total of 127 people were participants and/or victims, and Mitchell filed hundreds of fraudulent tax returns seeking $1,082,638 in refunds.

Florida Resident Sentenced in $2 Million Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On Feb. 7, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Lee Ervin Dale, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced to 120 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $275,740 in restitution. A jury previously convicted Dale of two counts of converting government funds to his own use, six counts of making and presenting false claims to the IRS, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. According to court records, Dale filed approximately 291 handwritten tax returns claiming more than $2 million in refunds between 2006 and 2009 using stolen identities and listing his Post Office Box address. Although the IRS was able to prevent refund checks from being issued on most of these claims, approximately $275,000 in refund checks were mailed to his Post Office Box. Several of these checks were deposited directly into bank accounts bearing both Dale’s name and the identity theft victim’s name. Other checks were cashed at a check cashing store in Oakland Park, Fla., in exchange for cash and money orders that Dale then deposited into his own accounts.

Former City of Miami Police Officer Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On Feb. 7, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Malinsky Bazile, of North Miami Beach, was sentenced to 144 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $140,000 in restitution. Bazile was convicted by a jury of one count of fraudulent use of unauthorized devices, four counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of exceeding authorized access to a protected computer and one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices. According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Bazile operated an identity theft tax refund scheme from January 2012 to October 2012. During that period, while employed as a City of Miami Police Officer, Bazile used his access to the Florida driver's license database to steal the personal identity information of approximately seven hundred women throughout the State of Florida. Using those identities, he then filed false and fraudulent tax returns with the IRS seeking refunds payable to pre-paid debit cards. Bazile was captured on multiple bank ATM videos withdrawing money from pre-paid debit cards loaded with fraudulent tax refund proceeds. FBI and Miami Police Department conducted a search at Bazile's residence and found ledgers in a safe filled with hundreds of people’s identities and several pre-paid debit card containers. Bazile admitted that he made between $130,000 to $140,000 from the fraud scheme in 2011 and 2012.

Four Texans Sentenced for Identity Theft and Tax Refund Fraud
On Feb. 6, 2014, in Houston, Texas, Yevette Lauren Walton and Lakisha Lashell Rogers were sentenced to 24 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $60,000 in restitution to the IRS. Walton and Rogers pleaded guilty on May 10, 2013 to conspiring to submit fraudulent tax refund claims in the names of 53 stolen identities during the 2013 tax season. In a separate case, Marlin Jermaine Beckett was sentenced to 36 months in prison, one year of supervised release and ordered to pay $196,923 in restitution to the IRS. Gia Cooper Beckett was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay another $163,441 in restitution. The court further ordered the Becketts to not prepare any more tax returns except their own. The Becketts pleaded guilty in April 2013. Marlin Beckett has been in custody since violating his bond conditions by continuing to prepare client tax returns after his guilty plea. According to court documents, Walton and Rogers provided Beckett with approximately 37 names, Social Security numbers and other means of identification for him to file false tax returns. Walton and Rogers also provided automated teller machine debit card routing numbers. This way, the refunds, which were expected to total approximately $220,000, could be credited to the cards and easily used to withdraw funds in an untraceable manner. Further, the Becketts admitted they claimed false business mileage deductions for local clients that fraudulently increased tax refunds by approximately $360,000 for tax years 2006 through 2009.  

Three South Floridians Sentenced in $2.2 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On Feb. 6, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Frantz Pierre, of Parkland, was sentenced to 208 months in prison.  Terry Pierre and Christmanie Bissainthe, both of Miami, were sentenced to 121 months and 84 months in prison, respectively. On October 24, 2013, a federal jury in Miami convicted Frantz Pierre, Terry Pierre and Christmanie Bissainthe on conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. According to court records, 1,000 pre-paid debit cards were sent to Frantz Pierre’s business in the name of Tax Professors in May 2010. Co-conspirators subsequently caused approximately 338 fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns using stolen prisoners’ identities to be submitted to the IRS seeking $2.2 million in refunds for payment onto the Tax Professors’ debit cards. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Frantz Pierre’s residence in July 2012. The evidence showed that this residence had been purchased primarily with fraudulent tax refund proceeds. After law enforcement announced their presence, an individual was observed tossing laptops from the second floor of Pierre’s residence towards the pool. Law enforcement found over 70 pre-paid debit cards and a thumb drive with over 2,000 people’s names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and IRS PIN numbers in Frantz Pierre’s bedside dresser.  

Former Medical Center Temporary Employee Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Scheme
On Feb. 3, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Oliver Gayle was sentenced to 51 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Gayle was found guilty by a federal jury on October 23, 2013, to one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices, that is, debit cards and social security numbers of other persons with corresponding names and dates of birth, three counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of possessing, using and attempting to use a United States visa knowing it to be forged, counterfeited altered and falsely made. According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, on February 27, 2013, the Aventura Police Department stopped a vehicle driven by Gayle. During an inventory search of the vehicle, officers uncovered a black bag containing over 100 printouts from a medical center Account Inquiry Processor with multiple names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and addresses of patients on each printout. Additionally, photocopies of checks written to the medical center from various individuals with a photocopy of the corresponding billing statement were found in the bag. During a consensual search of Gayle's residence, law enforcement found multiple printouts from the medical center that appeared similar to the ones found in his black bag.  Also found were copies of United States Treasury checks; a document labeled “HIT LIST” with a list of names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth; several tax returns in the names of other individuals; multiple pre-paid debit cards issued in the names of other individuals; a Jamaican passport in Gayle's name containing a counterfeit United States visa; and, an identification badge for the medical center with Gayle’s name and photo.

Tennessee Man Sentenced for Identity Theft and Filing False Tax Returns
On January 30, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn., Bryan Gardner, of Cordova, Tenn., was sentenced to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay $135,595 in restitution for stealing government funds through the filing of false income tax returns and identity theft. According to court documents, at different times between August 19, 2010 and November 15, 2011, Gardner and other individuals obtained the names, dates of birth and social security numbers of individuals without their knowledge or consent. He then provided this information to his associates who filed taxes claiming refunds using this information. Gardner and others opened bank accounts and directed the tax refunds associated with the false tax returns to be electronically deposited into these accounts.  

Florida Woman Sentenced for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
On January 30, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Jennifer Meier Hunt was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay a $97,238 forfeiture money judgment. Hunt pleaded guilty on June 25, 2013 to one count of theft of government property and one count of aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, in April 2011, a confidential informant told federal agents that certain employees of a Tampa-based professional staffing company were filing fraudulent income tax returns using on-line tax software. The investigation subsequently revealed that between February 2, 2011, and May 2, 2011, Hunt used stolen identities to electronically file 75 fraudulent federal income tax returns totaling approximately $187,687 in false refunds.

Florida Men Sentenced in Social Security and Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On January 29, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Daniel Jean Charles was sentenced to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Charles pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Co-conspirator Wesley Compere was sentenced to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Compere previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Charles and Compere used stolen identities to file fraudulent Social Security Retirement Income Benefit (RIB) and fraudulent income tax refund claims.  

Nurse’s Aide Sentenced for Conspiracy to Defraud the Government
On January 24, 2014, in Norfolk, Va., Festus Ighalo, of Virginia Beach, Va., was sentenced to 57 months in prison. Ighalo pleaded guilty on October 8, 2013 to conspiracy to defraud the government. According to court documents, Ighalo and his co-defendant Emmanuel Effiong, both originally from Nigeria and now naturalized United States citizens, were formerly nurse’s aides at a hospital in Virginia Beach. They used their positions there to obtain personally identifiable information, such as dates of birth and social security numbers, from thousands of patients. Then, with the help of others located elsewhere in the United States and Nigeria, they used that information to submit fraudulent federal tax returns with the IRS and receive tax refunds in the patients’ names. Effiong was sentenced to 81 months for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft on January 10, 2014.

Mississippi Couple Sentenced for Identity Theft and Filing False Tax Returns
On January 23, 2014, in Jackson, Miss., Erica Porter and Obadiah Herring were sentenced to 34 months and 18 months in prison, respectively, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $49,127 jointly. Porter and Herring pleaded guilty in November 2013 to participation in a scheme involving identity theft and filing false income tax returns. According to court records, around February 12, 2012, Porter prepared false income tax returns using the personal identifiable information of victims without their permission. The false returns stated that the victims had earned income they never actually earned and paid income tax on the fictitious income. Porter and Herring had these fraudulent tax refunds deposited into accounts they owned via electronic funds transfer. The funds were then used for personal expenditures.

IRS Financial Technician Sentenced for Stealing Identities
On January 23, 2014, in Covington, Ky., Joy Fox, of Independence, Ky., was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Fox pleaded guilty in September 2013 to aiding and abetting mail fraud and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Fox was a financial technician employed in an IRS office and had access to the Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS). IDRS is a computer system that maintains taxpayer information including names, social security numbers and dates of birth of taxpayers. Fox’s authorized access to the computer system was limited to official business use only. However, Fox admitted she used IDRS without authorization to steal the identities of taxpayers. She provided the information to her co-defendant, Patrick Sharpe, who lived in Tallahassee, Fla. Sharpe specifically requested that Fox obtain the personal information of individuals 65 or older who were eligible for Social Security benefits. The defendants had planned for Sharpe to apply online for debit cards using the stolen identities and fund the cards with those individuals’ Social Security benefits. Sharpe has admitted that he used false addresses in the application process so the cards would be delivered to locations where they could be picked up and used without the knowledge of the individuals whose identities had been stolen. Investigators discovered the scheme before the defendants could use the victims’ debit cards. Sharpe pleaded guilty in October 2013 to aiding and abetting mail fraud and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft and is awaiting sentencing.  

California Man Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Identity Theft Scheme
On January 22, 2014, in Los Angeles, Calif., Jerry Anthony Gregoire, a former Palmdale resident, was sentenced to 65 months in prison, one year of supervised release and ordered to pay $140,205 in restitution. Gregoire was convicted in October 2013, following a jury trial, of six counts of making false claims to the government, six counts of theft of government property and one count of aggravated identity theft. The evidence presented at trial showed that Gregoire filed fraudulent 2009 and 2010 federal income tax returns in the names of other individuals using the victim taxpayers’ names and Social Security numbers without the victim taxpayers’ knowledge or consent. The returns contained false information regarding the victim taxpayers’ residence addresses, incomes, expenses, and deductions, and claimed that the victim taxpayers were entitled to the tax refunds. The returns directed the IRS to deposit the refunds to a prepaid debit card account controlled by Gregoire. The false returns were either mailed or electronically transmitted to the IRS. Gregoire’s filing of fraudulent returns resulted in a total attempted tax loss amount of $294,487.

Georgia Woman Sentenced for Identity Theft
On January 22, 2014, in Macon, Ga., Yolando Blount, aka Yolanda King, was sentenced to serve 324 months in prison and ordered to pay $493,506 in restitution to the IRS. Blount pleaded guilty on September 4, 2013, to charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy, theft of public money, aggravated identity theft and access device fraud. In her plea agreement, Blount admitted that beginning in 2010, she obtained stolen identities of nursing home patients and used that information to file fraudulent income tax returns. Some federal tax refunds were processed in the names of the patients and mailed to Blount’s address. Others were directly deposited into a bank account belonging to Blount.

Florida Man Sentenced for Role in Identity Theft Scheme
On January 21, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Earl Rojelio Blanchett, Jr., was sentenced to 124 months in prison and ordered to pay a $22,500 money judgment. Blanchett pleaded guilty on October 29, 2013 to tax fraud charges and aggravated identity theft.  According to court documents and statements made at the sentencing hearing, in June and July 2013, Blanchett sold seven United States Treasury checks, with a face value of over $77,000, at a discounted price, to undercover law enforcement agents. These Treasury checks were issued as a result of tax returns filed in the names individuals who were victims of identity theft. The victims did not authorize the filing of those returns, the issuance and cashing of the resulting Treasury checks, and/or confirmed that the Treasury checks were fraudulently and falsely endorsed in their names. Personal identifying information related to some of the stolen identities was found in a search of Blanchett’s residence. Inside the residence, agents also found thousands of other individuals’ personal identifying information in computers, ledgers and notebooks, along with notes about the filing of tax returns, debit cards, passwords and user names.

Three Texans Sentenced for Identity Theft and Income Tax Fraud
On January 21, 2014, in Corpus Christi, Texas, Margo Marvette Stafford was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $98,493 in restitution for identity theft and filing fraudulent income tax returns. Stafford’s co-defendants, Richard Clayton and Mark Jerome Jackson, were sentenced previously to six and 14 months in prison, respectively, and three years of supervised release. Jackson and Clayton were also ordered to pay restitution in the amounts of $19,871 and $75,668, respectively. According to court documents, in 2011, the IRS and the United States Postal Inspection Service began investigating a fraudulent tax refund scheme in the Corpus Christi area. During the course of the investigation, nine bank accounts were identified which received numerous fraudulent tax refund deposits. Those accounts were opened and controlled by Stafford, Clayton and Jackson. Clayton prepared and submitted some of the fraudulent tax returns using stolen identifying information provided by a co-conspirator. Stafford stole identity information from medical files at two nursing homes where she was employed and forwarded that information to a co-conspirator to use in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns. Stafford also received debit cards used to access $40,242 resulting from fraudulent tax returns. Stafford opened and maintained three accounts which had received deposits tied to 47 fraudulent tax returns filed in the names of 47 different victims. Agents found 43 fraudulent tax refunds were deposited into five accounts controlled by Clayton. In addition, the one account used by Jackson had 17 electronic tax refund deposits related to fraudulent tax returns filed in the names of 17 different individuals.

South Dakota Man Sentenced in Identity Theft Scheme
On January 17, 2014, in Sioux Falls, S.D., Charlie Frank Adams, of Tampa, Fla., was sentenced to 54 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $421,832 in restitution.  Adams pleaded guilty on October 29, 2013 to conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Adams was involved in a scheme to defraud the United States by using personal identifying information, including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth of other individuals, to file bogus income tax returns showing tax refunds due. The requested refunds totaled  approximately $1 million. Adams filed bogus tax returns using stolen identifying information received from a co-conspirator, kept the co-conspirator informed as to whether the returns were accepted by the IRS and, if so, to which address the refunds would be mailed. He also provided stolen identifying information to his co-conspirators.

County Clerk Sentenced for Stealing Identities in Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On January 17, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Porscha Kyles, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was sentenced to 36 months in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $57,328 in restitution. Kyles previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess fifteen or more unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, from October 2011 through February 2012, Kyles worked as a clerk of court in Broward County. Kyles had access to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Driver and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID) in this position. On multiple occasions in 2011 and 2012, Kyles searched DAVID, copied personal identity information (names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) of individuals, and provided that information to a co-conspirator in exchange for a cash payment. Kyles provided over one hundred individuals’ personal identity information to the co-conspirator for the filing of fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds with the Internal Revenue Service.

New York Man Sentenced in Large Tax Refund Scheme
On January 16, 2014, in Rochester, N.Y., Juan Marie Delvalle was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,644,202 in restitution to the IRS. Delvalle was convicted of conspiracy to commit tax fraud in connection with a large nationwide tax refund scheme. According to court documents, from February 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011, Delvalle was involved in a scheme to obtain income tax refunds by the filing of fraudulent federal income tax returns with the IRS. Specifically, stolen identities were utilized to file the fraudulent federal income tax returns, and the wages and related tax withholdings reported on the federal income tax returns were fabricated in order to obtain the refunds. Most of the returns were filed in the names and social security numbers of individuals residing in Puerto Rico without their knowledge. Refund checks issued as a result of the fraudulent returns were sent to various addresses in Rochester and other locations in the country. Approximately 600 federal returns with Rochester area addresses were filed by a company in Bronx, New York. These 600 tax returns claimed tax refunds totaling $3,555,302. Delvalle participated in the scheme by retrieving many of the refund checks which were sent to Rochester and forwarding the money to individuals in the New York City area who were responsible for filing the false tax returns. The defendant was paid a fee for his participation in the scheme.

Check Cashier Sentenced for Involvement in Fraudulent Tax Refund Scheme
On January 16, 2014, in Montgomery, Ala., David Haigler was sentenced to 37 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $606,781 in restitution to the IRS. Haigler pleaded guilty on September 6, 2013 for his involvement in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme. According to court documents, between November 2011 and July 2012, Haigler obtained 263 fraudulent U.S. Treasury refund checks and Refund Anticipation Loan checks totaling $606,781. The refund checks were in the names of different individuals and those individuals did not authorize Haigler to cash the checks. Haigler obtained fictitious powers of attorney in the names of the individuals on the checks, which purportedly appointed Haigler to handle financial affairs, including the cashing of checks. Haigler retained a portion of the checks and provided the remainder to the individuals who brought him the fraudulent checks.

Mother and Son Sentenced for Conspiring to File False Claims
On January 15, 2014, in Oakland, Calif., Tonya Gilard was sentenced to 37 months in prison and her son, Tierre Crummie, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $688,687 in restitution. Gilard and Crummie pleaded guilty on May 9, 2013, to conspiracy to file false claims. According to court documents, in January 2009, Gilard and Crummie assisted in filing false federal income tax returns with the IRS. Gilard obtained the personal identifying information of others which she used to file false federal income tax returns. Gilard and Crummie also filed tax returns in their own names that falsely claimed entitlement to the first-time homebuyer’s credit. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Crummie provided Gilard with individuals’ bank account information and e-mail addresses, while another person provided names to use on the false tax returns. On April 30, 2009, a search warrant was executed at the defendants’ residence. Agents uncovered $69,800 during the search, and found notebooks with names and personal identifying information of others. In total, 91 false federal income tax returns were filed as part of this scheme, claiming $688,687 in false refunds.

Texas Man Sentenced for Aggravated Identity Theft
On January 15, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas, Daniel Henry Lopez was sentenced to 51 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $84,741 in restitution. Lopez pleaded guilty on October 10, 2013 to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Lopez admitted that from January 2012 to April 2013, he devised a scheme to steal means of identification including names, dates of birth and social security numbers from unsuspecting victims he met at Veterans Affairs rehabilitation facilities. Lopez further admitted that he used that information to create fraudulent income tax returns which, in turn, generated approximately $78,000 in false tax refunds. Lopez also created fraudulent documents that he used to open various bank accounts. As a result of his scheme, Lopez caused over $6,000 in losses to financial institutions due to overdrawn checks and other charges.

California Man Sentenced for Conspiring to Defraud the IRS
On January 15, 2014, in Los Angeles, Calif., Adels Torosyan, of Tujunga, was sentenced to eight months in prison and three years of supervised release to include 12 months of home detention. In addition, Torosyan was ordered to pay $303,735 in restitution to the IRS. According to court documents, from approximately February 2009 to March 2012, Torosyan participated in a conspiracy to obtain tax refunds based on the submission of fraudulent income tax returns to the IRS. Torosyan’s co-conspirator created fraudulent tax returns, including false Forms W-2 which claimed that taxes were withheld.  Torosyan’s role in the conspiracy was to open bank accounts and commercial mailboxes in the names of other people based on false passports provided by the co-conspirator. Tax refunds based on fraudulent tax returns were direct deposited into the bank accounts that Torosyan opened or mailed to the boxes that he opened. In addition to opening bank accounts and mailboxes, Torosyan would pick up mail from the mailboxes, including fraudulent tax refund checks. Torosyan also signed a fraudulent application for a taxpayer identification number in a name that was not his own. Subsequently, Torosyan endorsed and deposited a fraudulently obtained tax refund check in the same name.

Georgia Woman Sentenced for Identity Theft
On January 14, 2014, in Statesboro, Ga., Porsche Pickney was sentenced to 65 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $64,762 in restitution to the IRS. Pickney pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information. According to court documents, between on or about June 27, 2012 and September 19, 2012, Pickney, along with a co-defendant, obtained personal identifiers from medical records of patients, such as names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, and used these means of identification in order to prepare and submit fraudulent tax returns in order to obtain tax refunds which were then converted to her own use.

Georgia Woman Sentenced for Wire Fraud and Identity Theft
On January 14, 2014, in Statesboro, Ga., Dwan T. Scott was sentenced to 72 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $185,647 in restitution. Scott pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, around September 2009 until about September 2012, Scott, along with other co-defendants, obtained personal identifiers, such as names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, and used these means of identification in order to prepare and submit fraudulent tax returns in order to obtain tax refunds which were then converted to her own use.

Tax Preparer Sentenced for Tax Fraud Scheme
On January 13, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga., Kevin J. Sonnier was sentenced to 96 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $7,000,000 in restitution.  Sonnier pleaded guilty in May 2013 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  According to court documents, from about July 2010 and continuing through in or about January 2013, Sonnier operated "Sonnier Tax Service" a tax preparation business in Clayton County, Ga.  Sonnier led thousands of victims to believe that they could apply for "stimulus payments" from the federal government by providing their names and social security numbers.  Sonnier and his co-conspirators used the names and social security numbers of over 15,000 victims to file false income tax returns, that contained, among other thing false wages information and false tax credits, including the American Opportunity Tax credit. Sonnier electronically filed the false returns and had the refunds distributed to bank accounts under the control of himself and others.  Sonnier admitted to using the profits from the scheme for his personal use.  

Florida Man Sentenced on Multiple Fraud Charges
On January 13, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Anthony Simms was sentenced to 96 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $63,473 in restitution. Simms pleaded guilty on October 15, 2013 to passing forged Treasury checks, theft of government property, and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, from November 9, 2011 through January 25, 2012, Simms deposited 57 third-party tax refund Treasury checks and eight tax refund cashier’s checks into his business account. He was not authorized or entitled to deposit or cash these checks and knew that the signatures of the payees on the back of the checks were forged. The payees on the Treasury checks did not know or have any dealings with Simms or his business, and did not authorize any checks, in their names, to be deposited into his account. Some payees on the Treasury checks were deceased. The total amount of money deposited into Simms’s account was $449,689. Simms also opened other business accounts at two other local banks and attempted to deposit over $15,000 of Treasury checks into those accounts.

Former Nurse Aide Sentenced for Conspiracy and Aggravated Identity Theft
On January 10, 2014, in Norfolk, Va., Emmanuel Effiong, formerly of Virginia Beach, Va., was sentenced to 81 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Effiong pleaded guilty on October 11, 2013 to conspiracy to defraud the government and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Effiong and his co-defendant Festus Ighalo, originally from Nigeria and now naturalized United States citizens, were formerly nurse aides at a hospital in Virginia Beach.  They used their positions there to obtain Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as dates of birth and social security numbers, from thousands of patients. Then, with the help of others located elsewhere in the United States and Nigeria, that information was used to submit fraudulent federal tax returns with the IRS and receive tax refunds in the patients’ names.

Florida Woman Sentenced for Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns and Identity Theft
On January 10, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Jameshia Mack was sentenced to 75 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The court also sentenced Mack to an additional 14 months in federal prison for committing these crimes while on supervised release from a previous federal sentence for aggravated identity theft for a total of 89 months in prison. Mack was also ordered to pay $100,135 in restitution to the IRS. Mack pleaded guilty on October 17, 2013. According to court documents, Mack was on federal supervised release in 2011 after serving a prison term for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in the Western District of Kentucky. After returning to the Tampa area, she began filing false and fraudulent income tax returns in her own and other persons’ names, and directed that the refunds be put onto prepaid debit cards. Mack then withdrew cash from the debit cards or spent the funds on retail purchases, a luxury automobile, and casino transactions. When the Tampa Police Department encountered Mack during a traffic stop, she had stacks of cash along with multiple credit cards and prepaid debit cards in other peoples’ names.

Georgia Woman Sentenced for Identity Theft
On January 10, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga., Cora Cadia Ford, of Stone Mountain, Ga., was sentenced to 111 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $101,015 in restitution.  Ford was found guilty by a jury on September 20, 2013, for mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and filing false claims with the government. According to court documents, from approximately January 2007 to May 2011, Ford prepared and filed false tax returns with the IRS, using the names and social security numbers of the poor, homeless and disabled. Ford intentionally prepared each tax return with false information so that it would generate a tax refund. Ford obtained the tax refund checks and deposited them into her own bank account or cashed the checks at check-cashing stores, and used the money for her own benefit. As a result of Ford’s crimes, many of the victims whose names and social security numbers were stolen had their social security disability benefits reduced or eliminated for a period of time.

Defendant Sentenced for Conspiracy to File False Tax Returns and Identity Theft
On January 7, 2014, in Macon, Ga., Edna Yvonne Orr Goff, of Thomaston, Ga., was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution. Goff and Michelle Blankenship were indicted on February 15, 2013 and charged with conspiracy to submit false tax returns and identity theft. According to court documents, Goff and Blankenship used stolen taxpayer identity information to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS. Blankenship was sentenced on November 14, 2013 to 96 months in prison and ordered to pay $224,136 in restitution to the IRS.

Florida Man Sentenced for Theft of Government Funds
On January 7, 2014, in Tampa, Fla., Rodney Andre McCray was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $78,728 in restitution to the IRS and a $3,500 money judgment. McCray pleaded guilty on October 8, 2013 to theft of government funds. According to court documents, during the summer of 2012, McCray and another person agreed that McCray would receive fraudulently acquired income tax refund deposits in a bank account opened in his name. McCray then opened a bank account for the purpose of receiving the "drop money," or the fraudulent income tax return deposits. McCray was the only authorized signatory on the bank account. Thereafter, fraudulent individual income tax returns were filed with the IRS, directing that any refunds from the returns be deposited into McCray's bank account. In many cases, the fraudulent tax returns were filed on behalf of deceased persons. In those instances, the returns were filed together, with a form stating that McCray was authorized to receive refunds on behalf of the deceased filers, which was also false.  As a result of this scheme, McCray was complicit in converting approximately fifteen fraudulently acquired refunds through his bank account.

Service Representative Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On January 6, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Tobin Lamar Lyon, II, aka Tobe Kasa, of Charlotte, N.C., was sentenced to 72 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $118,602 in restitution.  Lyon and co-defendant Jeffrey Alexander Martin, of Broward County, previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Lyon worked as a service representative for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), a financial services company specializing in providing retirement services to those in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. Lyon had access to the names, addresses, social security numbers, and dates of birth of clients. In anticipation of a share of the proceeds, Lyon provided Martin with personal identifying information belonging to individual clients for the purpose of filing fraudulent tax returns claiming tax refunds in those clients' names. Lyon sent over 500 different identities to Martin. For the tax years 2011 and 2012, the total amount of fraudulent refunds claimed by Martin was approximately $304,611. During the time that Lyon was providing stolen information of clients to Martin, he was also providing stolen information to others in New York for the purpose of raiding the TIAA-CREF clients' bank accounts.

Ohio Man Sentenced in Identity Theft and False Income Tax Refund Scheme
On January 3, 2013, in Dayton, Ohio, Hiszan Blackford was sentenced to 16 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $80,478 in restitution for an income tax refund fraud scheme. According to court documents, between January 2008 and November 2009 Blackford unlawfully obtained personal identifying information, including names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers by handing out employment application forms to people, who would fill these with their personal information. Blackford also purchased individuals’ names and social security numbers. Blackford used identities to prepare false federal income tax returns. Furthermore, Blackford created false Forms W-2 using the same unlawfully obtained personal information. The income tax refunds were deposited into bank accounts controlled by Blackford. Blackford convinced other individuals to allow him to use their bank accounts, for a fee, to deposit income tax refunds.

Dominican Republic Brothers Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Drug Conspiracy
On December 30, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska, Joel Santana-Pierna and Abel Santana-Pierna, citizens of the Dominican Republic residing in Alaska, were sentenced to 135 months and 72 months in prison, respectively. In addition, they were ordered to pay $559,755 in restitution to the IRS and agreed to forfeit approximately $130,000 obtained as part of their drug trafficking activities. On May 2, 2013, Joel Santana-Pierna pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to defraud the government. On July 23, 2013, Abel Santana-Pierna pleaded guilty to the same charges. According to court documents, from January 2010 to March 2012, Joel Santana-Pierna led his conspirators, including his brother Abel, in distributing cocaine in the Anchorage area. He also arranged to import over two kilograms of cocaine into Alaska for distribution. In addition to their cocaine smuggling scheme, the Santana-Pierna brothers conspired to use stolen Puerto Rican identities to file false income tax returns and obtain large income tax refunds to which they were not entitled. Conspirators in the income tax fraud scheme obtained the identities of more than 3,000 individuals, including names and social security numbers. Using this stolen information, the brothers and their co-conspirators completed false returns and submitted them to the IRS.  

Georgia Couple Sentenced for Identity Theft and Fraud Charges
On December 20, 2013, in Jacksonville, Fla., Estella D. (Washington) Wright and her husband, Dorian D. Wright, both of Brunswick, Ga., were sentenced to 51 months and 15 months in prison, respectively. The couple was also ordered to pay $210,737 in restitution to the IRS and $1,500 to a victim of the identity theft scheme. Both pleaded guilty on June 26, 2013. According to court documents, from at least September 2007 through 2008, Estella Wright stole the means of identification from individuals through her employment at a temporary staffing agency. Wright then provided these means of identification to her co-conspirators to fraudulently file tax returns and obtain income tax refunds. The fraudulently filed tax returns caused a total of $816,384 to be directly deposited into bank accounts held in the name of either Estella or Dorian Wright.

Florida Man Sentenced for Role in Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On December 19, 2013, in Tampa, Fla., Quincy Wimberly was sentenced to 84 months in prison. Wimberly pleaded guilty on September 5, 2013 to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, from at least as early as January 2011, Wimberly engaged in stolen identity tax refund fraud. He was responsible for over sixty fraudulently filed tax returns and fraudulently obtained tax refunds in excess of $175,000. Wimberly’s co-conspirators, Nikia Williams and Porscha Williams, were previously sentenced to 66 months and 48 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the scheme.

Defendant Sentenced in False Tax Return and Identity Theft Refund Fraud Scheme
On December 19, 2013, in Miami, Fla., Behrmann Desenclos, of Lauderhill, was sentenced to 108 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,358,156 in restitution. Desenclos previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Desenclos, Rachelle Beaubrun and Louis Richard Nemorin were involved in a scheme of submitting false claims for refund. The defendants prepared various federal income tax returns falsely claiming refunds on behalf of foreign nationals who had previously been deported from the United States and who were ineligible to receive any refund. The returns were based on jobs with companies that had no employees; based on employment with companies or offices where the taxpayer named on the return did not work; utilized Schedule C to falsely claim deductions for nonexistent business expenses; and claimed First Time Homebuyer Credits for residences which the taxpayers named on the returns did not actually purchase. Desenclos and Beaubrun also acquired stolen identification information such as names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, from Nemorin. The defendants prepared fraudulent federal income tax returns through Divine Tax and Financial Services and Global-Tech Financial Management, LLC. For tax years 2008 and 2009, the defendants caused the submission of federal income tax returns which falsely claimed refunds amounting to more than $2.6 million. On August 20, 2013, Beaubrun was sentenced to 102 months in prison. Nemorin was sentenced to 60 months in prison.

North Carolina Man Sentenced for Identity Theft and Mail Fraud
On December 17, 2013, in Richmond, Va., Brandon Lee Caudle, of Charlotte, N.C., was sentenced to 48 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $16,135 in restitution to the IRS. Caudle pleaded guilty to identity theft and mail fraud.  According to court documents, in 2011 and 2012, Caudle received stolen personal identifiable information about inmates at the Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg. Caudle  electronically prepared tax returns using the names and other stolen identifying information of inmates. Each of these returns was accompanied with false W-2’s, reflecting false earnings and withholdings from a restaurant in Charlotte, N.C., that Caudle previously owned.

Tennessee Woman Sentenced for Theft of Government Funds and Identity Theft
On December 13, 2013, in Memphis, Tenn., Temptress Pope was sentenced to 48 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $870,252 in restitution for filing false tax returns and ID theft. According to court documents, at different times from 2008 through 2012, Pope and other individuals obtained the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of people without their knowledge or consent, and filed numerous federal tax returns claiming refunds using this information. Pope and others opened bank accounts in the name of fictitious businesses and directed the tax refunds associated with the false tax returns to be electronically deposited into these accounts. Pope and her associates used different versions of tax preparation software to electronically file hundreds of false tax returns.

Longtime Tampa Tax Fraudster Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Identity Theft
On December 12, 2013, in Tampa, Fla., Marterrance Q. Holloway was sentenced to 116 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $238,573. In addition, Holloway will forfeit items purchased with proceeds of the fraud and other substitute assets, to include two 2010 Chevrolet Camaros, a 2011 Dodge Charger, a 2005 Dodge Charger, a motor scooter, an iPad computer, assorted jewelry and $779 in cash. Holloway pleaded guilty on July 24, 2013 to charges related to tax fraud and aggravated identity theft. On September 23, 2013, Holloway’s co-defendant, Maurice Larry was sentenced to 101 months in prison for his involvement in this case. According to court documents, Holloway and Larry were filing fraudulent tax returns from a Tampa hotel room in September 2010. Inside the hotel room were four computers, which were used to electronically file fraudulent tax returns in the names of deceased individuals, along with website pages, ledgers, and lists of stolen names, dates of birth and social security numbers. Multiple reloadable debit cards were also found in the hotel room, along with ATM receipts for cash withdrawals and approximately $3,700 in cash. Further, in August 2011, Holloway used a fraudulent debit card at a local bank ATM machine that had been loaded with the proceeds of a fraudulently filed tax return in the amount of more than $9,800.

Alabama Man Sentenced for Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On December 2, 2013, in Montgomery, Ala., Clarence Hicks, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 57 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $210,555 in restitution for his role in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme.  Hicks previously pleaded guilty to filing a false claim for a federal tax refund and to aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Hicks had access to an IRS Electronic Filing Identification Number assigned to another person. Hicks used that number to file false federal income tax returns in the names of stolen identities claiming more than $300,000 in fraudulent refunds.

Five Defendants Sentenced in Tax Refund Scam
On December 2, 2013, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ellis Maurice Scott was sentenced to 102 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $477,490 in restitution to the IRS. Scott pleaded guilty in April 2013 to conspiracy to submit false claims for federal income tax refunds and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, between January 2011 and September 2012, Scott and four co-defendants participated in a scheme to obtain false claims for income tax refunds from the IRS by electronically filing false 2010 and 2011 federal income tax returns. Scott purchased names, Social Security numbers and dates of births of individuals from a variety of sources, including employees at nursing homes and hospitals. These stolen identities were used to file false federal tax returns. The false income tax returns contained fabricated information which often qualified the taxpayer listed on the return to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The four co-defendants were sentenced in October and September 2013 to the following terms:
- Bridgette Jones was sentenced to 61 months in prison and ordered to pay $477,490 in restitution to the IRS.
- Dione Howard was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay $30,120 in restitution to the IRS.
- Latasha Hampton was sentenced to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay $84,090 in restitution to the IRS.
- Marnay Love was sentenced to 8 months in prison and ordered to pay $84,090 in restitution to the IRS and $17,350 in restitution to ACE Cash Express.

Arkansas Man Sentenced for Tax Refund Fraud Scheme and Identity Theft
On November 26, 2013, Fayetteville, Ark., Owen Wheeler, of Everton, Arkansas, was sentenced to 100 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $132,411 in restitution to the IRS.  On June 5, 2013, Wheeler pleaded guilty to filing false claims for tax refunds, stealing federal tax refund money, and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, from September 2011 through May 2012, Wheeler used the identities of numerous persons to file fraudulent claims for tax refunds using online tax software. He also opened a bank account in the name of another person, into which he deposited the United States Treasury checks that were issued in response to his fraudulent tax refund claims.

Florida Man Sentenced in Connection with Stolen Identity Tax Fraud Scheme
On November 26, 2013, in St. Louis, Mo., Dwayne Denard Johnson, Wesley Chapel, Fla., was sentenced to 36 months in prison. In August 2013, Johnson pleaded guilty to his role in a stolen identify tax fraud scheme lead by his wife, Tania Henderson, from their home in suburban Tampa.  According to court documents, Johnson helped his wife and others use the identities and social security numbers of hundreds of people to file phony tax returns and collect the refunds generated by those returns. In all, the scheme has been found to have involved more than 400 stolen identities claiming more than $1.8 million in refunds. Henderson was sentenced in July 2013 to 144 months in prison.

South Carolina Woman Sentenced for Tax Fraud  
On November 22, 2013, in Columbia, S.C., Penny Maria Smith, aka Penny Maria Gardner, aka Penny Gardner Faile, of Kershaw, S.C. was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $82,665 in restitution. Smith pleaded guilty to fraud related to identification documents. According to evidence presented at the change of plea hearing, Smith, a tax preparer, filed false tax returns using others’ identifying information without their authority. Some of the victims had employed Smith as their tax preparer to file their taxes in previous years. However, Smith used their information or their dependents’ identifying information during additional tax years without their permission. Smith admitted to filing 86 false claims with the IRS, totaling $82,665 in loss.  

Florida Man Sentenced for Tax Fraud
On November 20, 2013, in Panama City, Fla., Anthony Q. Atkinson was sentenced to 37 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $23,496 in restitution to the IRS. According to court documents, Atkinson and others were involved in a tax scheme whereby they conspired to file false federal income tax returns with the IRS claiming refunds to which the defendants knew they were not entitled. As part of the scheme, conspirators would provide the personal identifying information of other individuals to Atkinson, who would then file false tax returns for each of those individuals. The returns transmitted in this scheme had notable similarities, including fabricated taxable interest income and names of financial institutions, false amounts of Social Security income and fabricated amounts of tax withholdings.

Florida Woman Sentenced for Tax Refund Fraud
On November 19, 2013, in Tampa, Fla., Porscha Williams was sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay a $9,116 money judgment, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct. Williams was found guilty in September 2013 to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Williams engaged in stolen identity tax refund fraud from as early as March 2011. She was responsible for the filing of more than 30 fraudulent tax returns claiming refunds totaling in excess of $175,000. Porscha Williams’ sister, Nikia Williams, was sentenced in June 2013 to 66 months in prison for her role in the scheme. Another co-defendant, Quincy Wimberly, is currently awaiting sentencing.

New Jersey Man Sentenced in Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On November 15, 2013, in Newark, N.J., Manuel Rodriguez, of New Brunswick, N.J., was sentenced to 48 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $5.2 million in restitution. Rodriguez previously pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy to defraud the United States, theft of government property and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Rodriguez participated in a scheme that caused more than 8,000 fraudulent United States income tax returns to be filed claiming more than $65 million in tax refunds. Rodriguez and others obtained personal identifiers, such as dates of birth and social security numbers, belonging to Puerto Rican citizens. They used those identifiers to create fraudulent 1040 forms, which falsely reported wages purportedly earned by the “taxpayers” and taxes purportedly withheld, to create the appearance that the “taxpayers” were entitled to tax refunds.

Alabama Man Sentenced for Role in Identity Theft and Tax Refund Scheme
On November 14, 2013, in Montgomery, Ala., Kevin Jackson was sentenced to 102 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $150,840 in restitution. Jackson had previously pleaded guilty to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Jackson possessed a storage locker in which law enforcement authorities found a computer, three cellular telephones, at least 500 names and Social Security numbers of identity theft victims and at least 70 prepaid debit cards, all tied to a scheme to obtain fraudulent federal tax refunds by causing federal tax returns to be filed in the names of stolen identities.

Leader of Massive Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Sentenced
On November 13, 2013, in New York, N.Y., Melvin Duarte was sentenced to 120 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $15 million. In June 2013, Duarte pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to steal mail and one count of mail theft. According to court documents, Duarte participated in a massive tax and mail theft scheme. As part of the scheme, co-conspirators operating out of the Dominican Republic and other places electronically filed thousands of fraudulent federal tax returns, seeking tens of millions of dollars in tax refunds. The fraudulent returns were filed using social security numbers and other identifying information stolen from residents of Puerto Rico. Each of the tax returns at issue falsely represented that the taxpayer resided at an address in the Bronx, N.Y., where the refund check was to be sent. The checks were then stolen by letter carriers assigned to the mail routes where the checks were sent who had been recruited beforehand to participate in the scheme. The letter carriers participating in the scheme were paid a kickback for each check they stole. The letter carriers passed the checks on to other co-conspirators, who cashed them at various banks and check-cashing businesses located in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

Texas Woman Sentenced for Identity Theft and Wire Fraud Scheme
On November 12, 2013, in Sherman, Texas, Lynetta Mae Washington, of Denton, Texas, was sentenced to 63 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to pay $407,448 restitution. Washington pleaded guilty on November 28, 2012 to two counts of making false claims, one count of misuse of a Social Security Number and one count of wire fraud. According to court documents, in January 2007, Washington fraudulently assumed the identities of her father-in-law and deceased mother to present the IRS with two falsified 2006 Income Tax Returns in which she claimed a total of $5,730 in tax refunds. Washington also knowingly submitted a written Renewal Application for Loan Officer License with the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending in which she fraudulently claimed her mother’s Social Security Number as hers in order for her license to be renewed. Furthermore, Washington admitted that while working as a loan officer on behalf of one or more mortgage companies from 2006 to 2009, she collected a fee for providing fictitious employment and income information on a mortgage application in order to secure the loan.

Dallas Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to File False Claims for Refunds
On November 12, 2013, in Sherman, Texas, Moses Mukuka, of Dallas, was sentenced to 46 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,463,116 in restitution. In addition, Mukuka will be deported after he completes his prison term and supervised release. According to court documents, Mukuka entered into one conspiracy with another individual advertising himself as an accounting student, which he was not, and offered to do income tax returns for a $10 fee. Mukuka received paperwork from students to prepare their taxes and then sent the information out-of-state to the other individual to prepare the tax returns. The tax returns were submitted to the IRS with false information, including the number of dependents, claims as head-of-household, and other fictitious entries designed to increase the refund amount. Mukuka then distributed a small portion of the actual refund to the taxpayer, representing it was the entire refund. Mukuka admitted that he was aware the tax returns were false. In the other conspiracy, Mukuka and his co-conspirators acquired the personal identification information of others, including their Electronic Filing Identification Numbers, and they used that information to file false tax refund claims with the IRS.

Tax Credit Refund Conspirators Sentenced
On November 7, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa., Paul Rawls, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Rawls pleaded guilty on June 25, 2013 to conspiracy and filing a false claim. On October 9, 2013, Jonathan Brownlee, a tax preparer, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Rawls and Brownlee were also ordered to pay $197,385 in restitution. According to court documents, Rawls and Brownlee conspired with two others in a tax fraud scheme that sought to bilk the government of over $600,000. The two remaining conspirators await sentencing. The scheme involved filing false tax claims by obtaining and using the personal identifying information of several individuals, including their social security numbers, sometimes under false pretenses. The conspirators used the information to prepare and file bogus tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds and directed the refunds to be deposited into bank accounts that the conspirators controlled. The tax returns fraudulently reported that the individuals for whom they prepared the returns were entitled to receive a $7,500 refundable tax credit under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The returns were false because those individuals had not purchased new homes and thus were not eligible to receive the refundable tax credit. Some of the individuals, in whose name the returns had been prepared and filed, were not aware that the conspirators used their social security numbers for the purpose of filing the false returns.

Debt Collection Employee and Son-in-Law Sentenced for Identity Theft Tax Scheme
On November 1, 2013, in Montgomery, Ala., Quentin Collick, of Montgomery, Ala., and Deatrice Williams, of Duluth, Ga., were sentenced to 85 and 51 months in prison, respectively. Collick and Williams were convicted by a jury of conspiring to file false claims, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Collick was also convicted of three counts of theft of public funds. Corey Thompson, a co-conspirator, was previously sentenced to 30 months in prison. Based on evidence introduced at trial and court documents, Williams worked for a debt collection company located in Norcross, Ga. As an employee, Williams had access to a database that stored names, social security numbers and dates of birth of individuals who owed medical debts. Williams stole the identities of a number of these individuals and provided the stolen information to Collick, her son-in-law. Collick and Thompson used the stolen identities to file false tax returns and fraudulently claim tax refunds. In 2011 and 2012, Thompson worked as an independent contractor for a cable company installing cable and Internet access for customers. To conceal the filing of the false tax returns, Thompson used his specialized knowledge and equipment to shut down and hijack his customers’ Internet service, and along with Collick, filed false tax returns using the customers’ Internet access, making it appear as if the false tax returns were being filed by the customers. Thompson and Collick then directed the tax refunds to be placed on pre-paid debit cards. However, some of those cards were intercepted by the United States Postal Service.

Former United States Postal Service Mail Carrier Sentenced for Role in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
On October 31, 2013, in Montgomery, Ala., Vernon Harrison was sentenced to 111 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $82,791 in restitution. Harrison was convicted on July 3, 2013, following a jury trial, of conspiracy to file false claims, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and embezzlement from the mail. According to the evidence presented at the trial, Harrison was a United States Postal Service mail carrier who was recruited to join a stolen identity refund fraud conspiracy. Members of the conspiracy used stolen identities to file false tax returns, which claimed fraudulent tax refunds. The returns were filed from various locations, including houses and hotels around Montgomery and Birmingham, Ala. The tax refunds were placed on debit cards that were mailed to addresses along Harrison’s postal route. Harrison stole the debit cards from the mail and provided them to a co-conspirator in exchange for cash. During this period Harrison stole over 100 debit cards from the mail for his co-conspirators.

Former NFL Player Sentenced for Federal Tax Fraud Conspiracy
On October 29, 2013, in Orlando, Fla., Freddie L. Mitchell II was sentenced to 37 months in prison and three years of supervised release.  Mitchell pleaded guilty on March 8, 2013 to conspiracy to file a false tax claim with the government. According to court documents, on November 30, 2009, the IRS determined that a fraudulent 2008 Form 1040 claiming a $1,968,288 tax refund had been filed in the name of a professional athlete. Agents soon learned that the professional athlete had been introduced, by Mitchell, to former IRS employee Jamie Russ-Walls. Russ-Walls indicated that she and her husband, Richard Walls, worked in the tax preparation business and could get additional money back from the IRS because of "grey areas" in his tax returns. The athlete eventually made a $100,000 down payment to Mitchell towards the tax preparation fee which Mitchell split with Russ-Walls and Walls. They then electronically submitted a fraudulent 2008 Form 1040, in athlete's name, to the IRS without his knowledge. The form included false business losses totaling $5,367,775, resulting in a fraudulent refund of $1,968,288.  The athlete never had any involvement in these businesses and never had provided the information on the tax schedule to Mitchell, Russ-Walls, or Walls. The false return also included paperwork asking the IRS to directly deposit the refund into the bank accounts of Mitchell and Russ-Walls. The athlete subsequently learned of the fraudulent activity when the IRS rejected his regular tax return that he filed. During the investigation, it was discovered that five other false 2009 returns totaling $2,264,005 had been submitted by Mitchell, Russ-Walls and Walls. Each of these claims had been accompanied by false W-2 forms showing wages in the millions of dollars from Chameleon Enterprises, LLC.  Mitchell had incorporated this business in 2003, listed himself as the manager, and opened a mailbox in Kathleen, Florida to receive correspondence. When contacted by the IRS about the wages allegedly paid to these five individuals, Mitchell falsely verified their employment and income. Records checks later revealed that Chameleon actually had been dissolved as a corporation by the State of Florida in 2007 and therefore did not pay any wages in 2009. On February 1, 2013, Jamie Russ-Walls was sentenced to five years of probation.  On February 14, 2013, Richard Walls was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.  

Defendant Sentenced in $14 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
On October 25, 2013, in Miami, Fla., Serge St-Vil was sentenced to 96 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $7 million. St-Vil previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, in 2010, St-Vil, Muller Pierre and Finshley Fanor were involved in a scheme to file fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns seeking refunds. During the course of the scheme, there were over 5,000 fraudulent returns submitted to the IRS seeking over $14 million in refunds. Nearly all of these returns were submitted in the names of deceased persons. St-Vil was responsible for the filing of thousands of these returns using an Electronic Filing Identification Number obtained by Fanor. On June 26, 2013, Muller Pierre, of North Miami Beach, was sentenced to 57 months in prison. On May 22, 2013, Finshley Fanor, of Lauderhill, was sentenced to two years of probation.

Former Alabama Tax Return Preparer Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft
On October 24, 2013, in Montgomery, Ala., Bridgett Terry-Sankey was sentenced to 24 months and one day in prison. Terry-Sankey pleaded guilty on June 18, 2013, to one count of filing a false claim and one count of aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, Terry-Sankey worked as a tax preparer at a professional tax business in Montgomery.  She prepared and electronically filed four false 2010 federal income tax returns using the means of identification of actual individuals without their knowledge or permission. Terry-Sankey then caused the false refunds to be deposited onto debit cards or issued as refund anticipation loans. She used the false refunds for her personal benefit.

Florida Man Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Identity Theft
On October 18, 2013, in Tallahassee, Fla., Jamal Ismail Raddar was sentenced to 60 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,223,140 in restitution. Raddar pleaded guilty on July 25, 2013 to conspiracy, conversion of government property and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, between January 1, 2011 and March 8, 2013, Raddar helped negotiate more than one million dollars in stolen and fraudulently obtained United States Treasury checks. Raddar was a link in a chain of intermediaries between the persons who obtained the checks and those who ultimately cashed them. Evidence showed that he spent and held over $290,000 in cash in a twelve-month period when he was not otherwise employed. The case involved at least $1,085,467 in proceeds from fraudulent federal income tax returns, $134,610 in stolen Social Security checks, and $3,063 in stolen VA pension checks. The conversions occurred when Raddar asserted ownership of particular checks by attempting to negotiate them. He used the identities of real people in these crimes.

Two Sentenced for Identity Theft and Tax Conspiracy
On October 10, 2013, in Columbia, S.C., Yeedser D. Palacios and Wandy A. Fabre, both of Miami, Fla., were sentenced for conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft. Palacios and Fabre were sentenced to 75 months and 54 months in prison, respectively. Both were also ordered to pay over $91,000 in restitution. Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Fabre, Palacios, and Charles Law traveled to South Carolina for the purpose of filing fraudulent income tax returns and receiving bogus refunds. The three men rented a local hotel room and waited while accomplices in Florida sent them the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers that had been stolen. The trio used this information to file tax returns and directed that the refunds be sent to various addresses. The defendants routinely checked mail boxes for debit cards containing the refund amount. The investigation revealed that the trio filed over 60 fraudulent returns. The average amount of refund claimed was between $5000 and $7000. Charles Law pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

Pennsylvania Man Sentenced for Tax Credit Refund Scheme
On October 9, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa., Jonathan Brownlee, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $197,385 in restitution to the IRS. Brownlee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims against the United States and aiding and abetting in the filing of false claims. According to the superseding indictment, Brownlee and his co-conspirators obtained the personal identifying information of several individuals, including their social security numbers, sometimes under false pretenses, which they then used to prepare bogus tax returns. Along with preparing and filing the bogus returns, Brownlee and his co-conspirators opened accounts at several banks for the purpose of having the refund checks electronically deposited into the accounts. The tax returns fraudulently reported that the individuals, for whom Brownlee had prepared the returns, were entitled to receive a $7,500 refundable tax credit under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The returns were false because the individuals had not purchased new homes and thus were not eligible to apply for the refundable tax credit. Most of the individuals, in whose name the returns had been prepared and filed, were not aware that Brownlee and his co-conspirators had used their social security numbers for the purpose of filing the false returns.

 

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