Jury Convicts Identity Thief
Cora Ford Used Stolen Identities of the Homeless and Disabled to File Fraudulent Tax Returns for Refunds
ATLANTA - Cora Cadia Ford has been found guilty by a jury following a three-day trial on 30 counts of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and filing false claims with the Government.
“This defendant took advantage of some of the most disadvantaged members of our community,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Her greed drove her to use the identities of people who were homeless, mentally challenged, and physically disabled. She not only stole taxpayer money, she callously left her victims without their much-needed disability payments.”
IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot said, “Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude and with this degree of trickery, dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office, remain vigilant in identifying, investigating and prosecuting those individuals who seek to willfully defraud the United States Treasury and blatantly disregard the victims of their schemes.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: from approximately January 2007 to May 2011, Ford prepared and filed false tax returns with the IRS, using the names and social security numbers of the poor, homeless and disabled. Ford intentionally prepared each tax return with false information so that it would generate a tax refund. Ford obtained the tax refund checks and deposited them into her own bank account or cashed the checks at check-cashing stores, and used the money for her own benefit. As a result of Ford’s crimes, many of the victims whose names and social security numbers were stolen had their social security disability benefits reduced or eliminated for a period of time.
Ford obtained the victims’ names and social security numbers in a variety of ways. In some instances, Ford convinced the victims to provide her with their identifying information so that she could apply on their behalf for a homeless grant with the Government. In fact, no such Government grant existed. In other instances, Ford, who also ran a small church with her now-deceased husband, told her victims that she would file a tax return on their behalf and it would be “a gift from God.” In fact, Ford used the victims’ identifying information to prepare and file false tax returns, and kept the entire tax refund for herself. One victim, who testified that her social security disability benefits were reduced to approximately $27 per month as a result of Ford’s crimes, causing her to be unable to afford her own medications, stated that the defendant’s crimes had ruined her life.
The mail fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and each false claim charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charges carry at least one mandatory two-year consecutive sentence to any other sentence imposed. Each count also carries a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Sentencing for Ford, 55, of Stone Mountain, Ga., is scheduled for December 16, 2013, at 10:30 am before United States District Judge Thomas W. Thrash.
This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas J. Krepp and Steven D. Grimberg are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.