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Big Money ID Theft and Tax Scams Hit the Courtroom

Using stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns can be a multi-million-dollar criminal enterprise. It can also land the perpetrators in prison for many years. These recent cases show the high stakes that come with big money tax fraud and ID theft rings.

 

ID theft ring sentenced for $24 million fraud targeting soldiers

Eight people were found guilty of running a $24 million ID theft and tax fraud ring whose targets included US soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, according to WDAM 7.

The defendants filed more than 9,000 false tax returns using identities stolen from government and private databases--including the US Army, the Alabama Department of Corrections, a Georgia military hospital and a Georgia call center.

The theft ring also recruited US Postal workers to intercept the tax refund checks they acquired through fraud. Local businesses were used to launder more than $10 million in stolen funds.

Tracy Mitchell, one of the ring leaders, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison. The other ring leader, Keisha Lanier, is scheduled for sentencing on August 24.

One of the remaining members of the ring received probation, with the rest getting prison sentences ranging from one to twelve years. All were ordered to pay restitution.

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Dozens arrested for $14.3 million tax ID theft scheme with gang ties

Thirty-two suspected gang members and their associates were indicted for an identity theft and tax scam that raked in millions, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Prosecutors say members and associates of the Insane Crip gang in the Los Angeles area used stolen identities to file bogus tax returns seeking refunds totaling $14.3 million. They allegedly received $3.3 million from the IRS before arrests were made.

Those charged face 283 counts of criminal conspiracy, 299 counts of identity theft, 226 counts of grand theft and 58 counts of attempted theft. Ten of those indicted have not been taken into custody yet, while the others still await trial.

Arizona woman gets six years for $400k Facebook tax scam

An Arizona woman who used a fake tax refund program to steal the identity of Facebook users was sentenced to six years in prison, Yuma News Now reports.

In addition to prison time, Elaine Monique Zavalla-Charres was also ordered to pay back more than $400,000 she netted from false tax returns she filed under the stolen identites.

Zavalla-Charres was convicted of running a scam that convinced victims in New York that they were due tax refunds as part of a stimulus program for the unemployed. Her partner, Lacey Hollinger, collected personal data from several dozen people via Facebook and forwarded their identities to Zavalla-Charres. Hollinger was previously sentenced to three years for her role in the scheme.

Oakland CPA gets four years for fraud

A former Oakland accountant was sentenced to more than four years in prison for filing false tax refunds for several years, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Robert Doyle was convicted of creating false businesses, claiming false income and expenses for his clients and filing false tax returns using the identities of former clients without their knowledge. The judge also ordered Doyle to pay $142,031 in restitution.

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