Loretta Fergerson and her sister, Tracey Fergerson, both of Montgomery, Ala., were each sentenced to 115 months prison for their involvement in a conspiracy to file claims for false income tax refunds using stolen identities, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller ordered the Fergerson sisters to pay $504,305 in restitution to the IRS.
According to court documents, Loretta Fergerson owned and operated a tax return preparation business called Fast Tax Cash in Montgomery. From 2005 through 2008, Loretta and Tracey Fergerson filed tax returns using stolen identities in order to claim fraudulent tax refunds. Additionally, Loretta Fergerson and her employees filed tax returns for Fast Tax Cash customers that contained false information in order to obtain higher refunds for customers. Loretta Fergerson also created false driver’s licenses and false Social Security cards to be placed in customer files for returns that were prepared using stolen identities.
Court records established that Tracey Fergerson participated in the scheme by gathering stolen personal information and also by cashing refund checks for tax returns that were filed using the stolen personal information. Tracey Fergerson also recruited customers for Fast Tax Cash and coached them to provide false information in order to fraudulently increase their tax refund amounts. She further admitted that she improperly obtained personal information, including names and social security numbers, and used that personal information to have false tax returns prepared at Fast Tax Cash.
“The stolen identity refund fraud crimes committed by these defendants are an affront to honest, hard-working taxpayers,” said Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “The lengthy prison sentences handed down recently by this court, in this and other cases, show the high price that will be paid by identity thieves.”
“These unscrupulous defendants thought they had figured out a clever scheme to thwart the IRS and steal from American taxpayers,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “IRS Criminal Investigation has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority and we will vigorously pursue those who undermine the integrity of the U.S. tax system.”
Assistant Attorney General Keneally thanked Tax Division Trial Attorneys Chad Edgar and Michelle Petersen, who prosecuted the case, and special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation, who provided valuable assistance in conducting the investigation.