Businesses, Agencies and Individuals Must Work to Prevent Identity Theft
Montgomery, Alabama - “Businesses and Government Agencies beware,” warns the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, George L. Beck. “If you chose to gather and store private information in your records, you must protect it! Train those who have access to this private information, routinely employ safeguards, and carefully screen those who have access to personal names, addresses and social security numbers. Much identity theft can be prevented if business, agencies and individuals act smart!”
U.S. Attorney Beck is alarmed about the sharp, dramatic rise in identity theft of social security numbers, personal names and private addresses. This private information is then used to file false medical claims, false tax returns and work other costly scams. “Our consumers and taxpayers lose when private information is not reasonably protected,” stated Beck.
We have recently seen thousands of names and social security numbers stolen from State of Alabama agencies, hospitals, schools, prisons and other businesses. “The theft of identities from teenagers and prisoners who don’t work and never file tax returns are used routinely to file these fake tax returns and fraudulently obtain tax refunds,” says Beck.
Last week a federal grand jury in Montgomery, Alabama, returned three indictments involving identity theft and fraudulent tax preparers. First, a superseding indictment returned last week by the grand jury charged Antoinette Djonret, Angelique Djonret, Tabitha Stinson, Melba Wilson, Chantresa Hayes, and Corey Means with conspiring to file false tax returns using stolen identities. The 49-count indictment charges Djonret with filing false claims, theft of government funds, credit/debit card fraud, aggravated identity theft, and possession of unauthorized credit/debit card. Angelique Djonret is also charged with filing false claims, theft of government funds, and aggravated identity theft. Corey Means and Chantresa Hayes are charged with theft of government funds.
Antoinette Djonret had earlier been charged with making false claims in a criminal complaint that was filed on February 22, 2012, and in an indictment that was filed on March 28, 2012. According to court documents, Antoinette Djonret obtained stolen identities from State of Alabama databases. Antoinette Djonret and her sister, Angelique Djonret, filed false tax returns using the stolen identities. They then obtained the fraudulent tax refunds on prepaid debit cards. Many of the tax returns were filed from Antoinette Djonret’s residence. The superseding indictment further alleges that each of the six defendants recruited individuals to purchase prepaid debit cards and to provide the cards to the defendants. They then had the tax refunds deposited onto the cards. In total, the defendants filed over 800 false tax returns and requested over $1.2 million in tax refunds.
Also last week, a federal grand jury in Montgomery returned a twenty-five count indictment charging Larreka Jackson for conspiring to file false tax returns using stolen identities, filing false claims, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. According to the indictment, Jackson operated a tax preparation business called It’s Tax Time in Montgomery, Alabama. Jackson used It’s Tax Time as a front to file false tax returns using stolen identities. Jackson unlawfully obtained the names and social security numbers of actual persons and filed false tax returns using those names. Jackson directed the fraudulent tax refund to bank accounts controlled by her and her co-conspirators. In total, Jackson filed over 500 tax returns claiming over $2.8 million in fraudulent tax refunds.
Lastly, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Quentin Collick for conspiring to file false tax returns using stolen identities, theft of public funds, and aggravated identity theft. According to the Collick indictment, between January 2011 and April 2012, Collick conspired with others to file false tax returns using stolen identities. He obtained stolen identities and obtained mailing addresses to which the tax returns would be sent. Collick collected several federal tax refund checks sent to one of those addresses. He then caused those checks to be cashed.
These indictments merely allege that crimes have been committed, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
These cases were investigated by Special Agents of the IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial attorneys Jason H. Poole and Michael Boteler of the United States Department of Justice, Tax Division, and Assistant United States Attorney Todd Brown are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.
PRESS CONTACT: Clark Morris
Telephone: (334) 551-1755
Fax: (334) 223-7617