This tax season may be over, but the IRS and U.S. Attorney's Office have plenty of work ahead of them when it comes to dealing with stolen identity tax fraud schemes. With millions of dollars and hundreds of people's personal information at stake, these cases demonstrate just how big an issue this kind of theft and fraud really is.
Two More Sentenced in $30M ID Theft Tax Fraud Case
Two more defendants were sentenced this month to multi-year terms in federal prison for their role in a stolen identity tax fraud scheme that netted more than $30 million, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reports.
George Ojonugwa was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison and ordered to repay nearly $16 million received from the fraud. Eseos Igiebor was sentenced to 8 years and ordered to repay almost $10 million.
Previously convicted co-defendant Ogiesoba City Osula will be sentenced next month. Ebenezer Legbedion and Evelyn Nyaboke Haley were sentenced late last year and will serve more than three years and five years, respectively, in addition to being ordered to pay nearly $7 million in restitution combined.
The defendants used stolen identities to file for millions in fraudulent tax refunds. Authorities say the defendants traded information with a similar group based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Police near Cincinatti found Osula and Ojonugwa in a parked car with the Cincinnati ringleader and more than $300,000 in cash, money orders and multiple debit cards. While Osula was waiting in the police car to be questioned, police say he ate one of the debit cards.
Seven Charged in Rhode Island Tax Scams Worth $1.6M
Seven Rhode Island residents have been charged in two separate stolen identity tax scams involving $1.6 million in fraudulent returns and hundreds of victims, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Jairo Morales and Julianna Martins pleaded guilty to using the stolen identities of hundreds of Puerto Rican nationals and forged W-2 forms to file fraudulent returns for more than $596,000. Maria Paulino and Lucia Morales, two other defendants in that same case, pleaded guilty to theft of government property. Casmiro Santos, a fifth defendant, was scheduled to plead guilty last week to theft of government property and identity theft.
Authorities say Paulino was a teller who opened bank accounts using fraudulent identity information and negotiated checks for the other defendants.
Jairo and Lucia Morales, Martins and Paulino are scheduled to be sentenced in June. Santos is awaiting trial.
In another investigation, Richard Lara and Julian Balbi have pleaded not guilty to accusations of using more than 1,300 stolen identities to claim more than $1 million in fake returns from the IRS.
Rhode Island Police discovered the alleged fraud in February when a traffic stop revealed 87 U.S. Treasury checks worth almost $600,000 in the suspects' car.
Lara and Balbi are awaiting trial.
Alabama Ex-con Faces 20 Years for ID Theft, Fraud Charges
Deundra Milhouse of Alabama has pleaded guilty to stolen identity theft tax refund fraud and firearms offenses, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Milhouse faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted.
From 2011 to late 2013, Milhouse claimed more than $400,000 in fraudulent tax refunds using 250 stolen identities, succeeding in getting over $80,000 from the IRS. When authorities stopped his car, he fled and threw away a handgun that he wasn't allowed to own because he was a convicted felon.
Milhouse faces two 10-year sentences for access-device fraud and unlawful possession of a firearm as well as a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence for the identity theft.
Washington Woman Faces Prison Time for $95K Tax Scam
A Washington woman faces at least two years in prison for an identity theft and tax fraud scheme that netted her more than $95,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Barbara Stahlman pleaded guilty this month to filing 108 fake tax returns between 2010 and 2013. Stahlman used stolen Social Security numbers and the tax identification numbers of companies she never worked for — and even invented dependents to increase the refunds.
Forty-four of Stahlman's claims were accepted by the IRS for a pay out of $95,331 to prepaid debit cards in her control.
Stahlman will remain in custody until her sentencing in July.
Portland Archdiocese Victim of ID Theft Tax Scheme
Employees and volunteers of the Archdiocese of Portland and associated schools and parishes discovered they were victims of identity theft when the IRS declined their tax returns, Oregon Live reports.
When the victims tried to electronically file their 2013 taxes this year, they received an error message from the IRS saying a tax return had already been filed under the Social Security numbers.
Last month, the Archdiocese of Seattle reported similar stolen identity tax fraud and hired a forensic security firm to investigate. The source of the problem is still unknown, but both archdioceses are working with the IRS and law enforcement.