Bonner Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft and Using Debit Cards to Steal Income Tax Refunds
Montgomery, Alabama - Robert Bonner, 29, of Montgomery, Alabama, pled guilty to charges stemming from his part in a fraudulent income tax refund scheme, announced U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. Specifically, Bonner pled guilty to one count of identity theft and one count of access device fraud.
This fraudulent tax ring stole people’s names, dates of birth and social security numbers and used those stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. They then received the tax refunds from the IRS on pre-paid debit cards and cashed the money out on the pre-paid debit cards for their own use. Bonner’s role in this scam was to cash out the pre-paid debit cards that had the fraudulent tax returns on them.
“Identity theft is a rising problem in this district and across the country,” stated U.S. Attorney Beck. “Businesses that store the personal information of employees, clients, or customers must protect it. We must train and carefully screen those who have access to personal names, addresses and social security numbers. Much identity theft can be prevented if businesses, agencies and individuals act together.”
“Identity theft is an ongoing problem in the United States and the Montgomery, Alabama area is one of the top cities where the stolen identities are being used to file fraudulent tax returns”, stated Resident Agent in Charge Clayton Slay, U.S. Secret Service in Montgomery, Alabama. Slay continued by saying “This was a collaborative effort between the Montgomery Police Department, local bank investigators, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Internal Revenue Criminal Investigative Division and the U.S. Secret Service dating back to October 2010. The stolen identities in this case were obtained from local Montgomery high schools and from hospitals in Montgomery and Troy, Alabama, and the Atlanta, Georgia, area through collusive employees, security guards and U.S. Postal Delivery Personnel. The stolen identities were then utilized to file fraudulent tax returns which were distributed through U.S. Treasury checks or through pre-paid debit cards. These funds were then converted to cash or used to make lavish purchases by the defendants in this case. With the 2013 tax filing season approaching, the U.S. Secret Service, along with the Internal Revenue Criminal Investigative Division, will remain proactive in the investigation of individuals and groups associated with these types of crimes.”
“IRS, Criminal Investigation, along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners will continue to pursue individuals and organizations that are determined to benefit from the fruits of their illegal activity.” said Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation. “We are very serious about enforcing the laws against those who attempt to defraud our nation’s tax system.”
At sentencing, Bonner faces a possible sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years for the access device fraud charge. On the identity theft fraud charge, Bonner faces a two-year sentence in addition to any sentence he receives for the access device fraud, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to one year. This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant United States Attorney Brent Woodall is prosecuting the case.
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