News and Press Releases

Hospital Employee and Accomplice Plead Guilty to Tax Refund Fraud Using Stolen Patient Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2013

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office, Ronald Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Scott J. Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, announce that defendants Shalamar Major, 32, and Tanisha Wright, 27, both of Deerfield Beach, pled guilty yesterday in connection with a tax refund scheme that used stolen social security and other personal identifying information to file on-line tax returns claiming fraudulent tax refunds from the IRS.

More specifically, Wright was convicted of three counts of identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028(a)(7), three counts of theft of public money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, one count of theft of mail, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1708, and one count of conspiracy to commit false claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. Major was convicted of one count of unauthorized HIPAA disclosures, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 1320d-6, and one count of conspiracy to commit false claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286.

Sentencing has been scheduled for July 22, 2013 at 8:45 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum in Ft. Lauderdale. At sentencing, defendant Wright faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to ten years in prison on each of the theft of public money, access device fraud, and conspiracy to commit false claim counts, a maximum statutory sentence of up to fifteen years in prison on the identity theft counts, a maximum statutory sentence of up to five years in prison on the theft of mail counts, and a mandatory consecutive two years imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft count. Defendant Major faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to ten years in prison on each of the unauthorized HIPAA disclosure and conspiracy to commit false claims counts.

According to documents filed and statements made in court, from January through June 2012, Wright and Major possessed and used stolen personal identifying information of others to file federal income tax returns claiming tax refunds to which they were not entitled. Specifically, defendant Shalamar Major was employed as a scheduler at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Boca Raton, Florida. As a scheduler, she had access to personal identification information of Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients, including their names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and other sensitive personal information. In exchange for the promise of future payments, Shalamar Major unlawfully provided Tanisha Wright sensitive personal identifying information, including names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, of numerous Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients. Tanisha Wright, upon receipt of the sensitive personal identifying information of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients, used this information to electronically file fraudulent federal income tax returns without the knowledge or authorization of the victims and claimed refunds to which she was not entitled from the IRS.

Tanisha Wright thereafter instructed the IRS to direct-deposit the refunds onto pre-paid reloadable debit cards that were already in her possession and had been previously stolen out of the U.S. mail. Once the debit cards had been funded by the Department of the Treasury, Tanisha Wright would convert the funds on the debit cards to cash by making withdrawals at local automated teller machines or would make personal purchases at various local businesses. Once Tanisha Wright obtained cash from the fraudulently funded debit cards, she would split the proceeds with Shalamar Major. In total, at least 57 fraudulent tax returns were filed with the IRS, requesting $306,720 in federal tax refunds.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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