Pittsburg Woman Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Filing Tax Returns Using Stolen Identities
SAN FRANCISCO – Taneshia Stephenson yesterday was sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiring to file false claims, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Jose M. Martinez announced.
Stephenson pleaded guilty on Oct. 3, 2012. According to her plea agreement, beginning in July 2008, Stephenson helped other individuals obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service based on tax returns that were filed using stolen identities. Stephenson admitted that each of the tax returns she assisted in filing claimed fictitious Social Security income and withholding as a basis for the fraudulent tax refund. As part of the scheme, Stephenson and her coconspirators asked the IRS to directly deposit the fraudulent refunds into a bank account that Stephenson could access. In 2008, Stephenson allowed her bank account to be used by another individual for that purpose.
According to documents filed with the court, this case is part of a larger investigation involving more than 20 other defendants. In response to these types of cases, the Justice Department’s Tax Division issued a new directive to further the efforts of the Tax Division and help U.S. Attorneys’ Offices respond quickly and effectively to the challenges in stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) cases. To further this goal, Tax Division Directive 144, which took effect on Oct. 1, 2012, was issued to streamline the process for prosecuting these offenses.
Thomas Newman is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted this case. The prosecutions are the result of an investigation by the Pittsburg Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.