Office of the United States Attorney, Ann Birmingham Scheel
District of Arizona
February 8, 2012
TUCSON MAN GETS FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR TAX RETURN SCHEME
PHOENIX – On Feb. 6, 2012, Shelton DeWayne Tanner, 40, of Tucson, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Martone to five years of imprisonment for his participation in a tax return scheme that relied on stolen identities of disabled individuals. Tanner pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2011, to conspiracy to commit the crimes of false claims, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, Tanner and others used the stolen identities to claim more than $1,000,000 in bogus tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), resulting in the IRS paying out more than $300,000 in false refunds. Tanner and his associates took several sophisticated steps to conceal their misconduct, including filing the tax returns electronically using their neighbors’ unsecured wireless networks, directing the refunds to prepaid debit card accounts they had obtained under false identities, and recruiting friends and associates to receive the prepaid debit cards by mail at various addresses.
In addition to defrauding the IRS, Tanner and the others harmed the victims whose identities were used. Tanner and the others targeted disabled individuals for the identity theft portion of the conspiracy because they believed that those victims were less likely to file tax returns on their own, meaning the scheme would be more likely to succeed. As a result of the false income reported on the fraudulent tax returns, however, a number of the victims’ Social Security Administration (SSA) disability payments were temporarily affected.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service and the Buckeye Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by James R. Knapp and Dominic Lanza, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-10-1857-003-PHX-FJM
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-027(Tanner)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/