Guilty Plea In Massive Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
HOUSTON – Rance Hunter, 29, of Atlanta, has been convicted in a scheme in which fraudulent tax returns were filed using identification information that was stolen and used without lawful authority, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
According to court records, Hunter was employed at the Fulton County, Ga., Superior Court Clerk’s Office. There, he had access to the Sheriff’s Office Database and personal identifying information (PII), including names, birth dates and Social Security (SS) numbers, of arrestees, inmates and employees. Hunter would print out the PII from the database and sell the information when requested by his co-conspirators. From 2010 through 2013, those co-conspirators would use the PII to file thousands of fraudulent tax returns claiming more than $12 million in refunds.
At the time of his arrest, Hunter was in possession of another 10,000 names, SS numbers and dates of birth.
According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) records, the National Treasury paid out more than $6 million before the scheme was discovered. The tax refunds generated by the fraudulent returns were often deposited onto reloadable debit cards and mailed to addresses under control of the conspirators.
Eight people, including three U.S. Postal Service workers, are charged with conspiring together and participating in the scheme in a separate, but related, indictment.
U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison, who accepted the guilty plea, has set sentencing for June 17, 2014. At that time, Hunter faces up to 20 years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit mail fraud as well as a mandatory two-year-term which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Both conviction also carry a possible $250,000 fine. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The matter was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS - Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James R. Buchanan.