Alabama Woman Gets 12 Years in Prison for Running Sophisticated Million Dollar Identity Theft Tax Scheme
Montgomery, Alabama - Antoinette Djonret was sentenced today to 12 years in prison for her involvement in two separate tax fraud schemes, announced George L. Beck, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Djonret was also ordered to pay $1,291,658 in restitution. In October 2012, Djonret had pleaded guilty to charges in the two cases. In the first case, Djonret pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. She pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns in the second case.
According to court documents from the first case, between October 2009 and April 2012, Antoinette Djonret and her co-conspirators used stolen identities to file over 1,000 false tax returns that fraudulently claimed over $1.7 million in tax refunds. Djonret and her co-conspirators filed most of these tax returns from her residence in Montgomery, Ala.
According to court records, Djonret orchestrated this scheme. She obtained stolen identities from multiple sources, including Alabama state databases. She also established an elaborate network for laundering the refund money, recruiting a number of individuals to purchase prepaid debit cards for use in the scheme. The individuals Djonret recruited would often, in turn, recruit yet more individuals to purchase the debit cards. The fraudulent tax refunds obtained by the conspiracy were directed to these prepaid debit cards and Djonret and her co-conspirators would then use the cards to obtain the proceeds. Three of the co-conspirators she recruited have also pleaded guilty and are currently awaiting sentencing.
Documents introduced as part of the sentencing established that Djonret was also involved in a separate tax fraud scheme. Prior to beginning her identity theft scheme, Djonret worked at a tax return preparation business called Premier Tax, where she prepared false tax returns for clients of the business.
“Sophisticated Stolen Identity Refund Fraud schemes have the potential to harm many taxpayers and put large amounts of public money at risk,” said Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Sentences like the one handed down today are a warning to criminal enterprises that there are severe penalties for committing these types of tax crimes.”
“These identity thieves are becoming more devious, creative, and conniving,” said George L. Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. “They steal our identities, steal government money, and prey upon our citizens. However, my office is unrelenting. These criminals must be and will continue to be prosecuted in order to obtain justice for our victims from the Middle District of Alabama as well as justice for our nation.”
“Today’s announcement exemplifies IRS Special Agents’ intense focus on the rigorous pursuit of identity theft and refund fraud,” said Richard Weber, Chief IRS Criminal Investigation. “Djonret perpetuated an elaborate scheme driven by insatiable greed and a blatant disregard for the tremendous damage inflicted on innocent victims. Be assured that IRS Criminal Investigation, together with our partners at the U.S. Attorney's Office, will hold those who engage in similar behavior fully accountable.”
Assistant Attorney General Keneally commended the efforts of Special Agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial attorneys Jason H. Poole, Justin Gelfand and Michael Boteler, and Assistant United States Attorney Jared Morris, who prosecuted the two cases.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at justice.gov/tax.
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