Former IRS Employee Sentenced for Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Scheme
ATLANTA - Missy A. Sledge has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a fraud scheme she carried out using her position as an IRS employee.
“As an IRS employee for over twelve years, Sledge reviewed suspicious returns to protect the government from being victimized by fraud,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Instead, she used her IRS access to victimize 60 taxpayers, and cost the government over $500,000.00 in losses. Citizens file their taxes expecting government employees to handle their returns and trust that their information will be safe. Identity theft is a growing problem, one we combat daily.”
“The misuse of public office for private gain, especially by those employees who are entrusted with the fair and honest administration of our Nation’s tax laws, is a particularly heinous crime,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “In carrying out our duty to safeguard the integrity of the tax administration system, our office will continue to investigate vigorously allegations of corruption and to ensure that those responsible for misconduct are held accountable.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Sledge used her position as an IRS employee to carry out the scheme, which also involved the assistance of other individuals. In general, the other individuals would file fraudulent tax returns using the stolen identities of real taxpayers. These individuals would then provide the Social Security numbers associated with the fraudulent returns to Sledge. If the returns in question were routed to Sledge for review as part of her job, she would make sure that the fraudulent return payment was released by the IRS.
The scheme also involved some tax returns that were not fraudulent. Sledge would look for large, valid tax refunds pending in the IRS computer systems, and then provide the other individuals with information needed to fraudulently change the address of those taxpayers in the IRS systems. The valid refund would then be mailed to the address controlled by the individuals working with Sledge, rather than to the taxpayers' actual addresses. The individuals working with Sledge paid her a share of the proceeds from these activities.
As a result of Sledge's misconduct, a total of 60 taxpayers either had fraudulent tax returns filed or released using their social security numbers, or had valid refunds they were lawfully due redirected to criminals waiting to steal those refunds. The total loss to the government was $501,048.40, with a larger loss of $2,378,678.35 having been attempted, but rejected by the IRS before refunds were issued. Sledge's conduct continued until she was arrested at her desk at work on November 26, 2013.
Sledge, 47, of Atlanta, Ga., has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $501,048.40. Sledge was convicted on these charges on February 18, 2014, after she pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Assistant United States Attorney Alana R. Black prosecuted 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 home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.