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Former State Employee Sentenced to 5 Years For Identity Theft

A former employee in the Virginia Department of Social Services was sentenced to five years in prison for collecting nearly $1 million in fraudulent tax returns, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sybil Marshall Coles, 45, had family members and friends help her recruit people to file tax returns for, according to the DOJ. She ended up filing returns for herself, friends, family members and colleagues.

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The tax returns contained fictitious deductions and claimed fictitious business losses, resulting in at least $949,000 in false returns from the U.S. Treasury.

Coles filed at least 222 false federal tax returns, according to the DOJ. She also filed fictitious Commonwealth of Virginia tax returns.

Coles set up bank accounts in the name of a family member to conceal the money from the false tax returns, and also used identifying information from the tax filers to claim fictitious childcare expenses on other tax returns, according to the DOJ.

Coles told some of the people she filed taxes for to tell IRS investigators that someone else had filed their tax returns during the criminal investigation, the DOJ said.

Coles pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and preparing a false tax return in January. In addition to five years in prison, the judge ordered one year of supervised release. Coles will have to pay $949,273 in restitution.

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