News and Press Releases

Columbia Identity Theft Related to Tax Fraud Conviction

August 14, 2013

Contact Person: Jamie Schoen (864) 282-2100

Columbia, South Carolina -----United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that Penny Maria Smith, age 51, of Camden, SC, pled guilty today in federal court in Columbia, SC, to an Information charging Fraud with Identification Documents, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028(a)(7).  United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie accepted the plea and will impose sentence on November 19, 2013.

Evidence presented at the plea hearing established that Ms. Smith, a tax preparer, filed false tax returns using others’ identifying information without their authority.  Some of the victims had employed Ms. Smith as their tax preparer to file their taxes in previous years.  However, Ms. Smith used their information or their dependents’ identifying information during additional tax years without their permission.  Ms. Smith admitted to filing 86 false claims with the IRS, totaling $82,665 in loss.
Mr. Nettles states the maximum penalty Ms. Smith can receive is a fine of $250,000.00 and/or imprisonment for 15 years, plus a special assessment of $100.00.

The case was investigated by agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation.  “Tax refund schemes are especially egregious when identity theft is used to expand the scheme.  IRS Criminal Investigation will respond to these schemes using every legal resource at our disposal,” said Jeannine A. Hammett, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge.  “Ms. Smith’s guilty plea today is a victory for the honest taxpayer.” U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles stated, “This case involved theft of personal identifying information, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office takes very seriously.  Furthermore, the fraud was committed by a tax preparer, and while most tax preparers are honest and do a good job, we hope the conviction today dissuades the minority of others with similar bad ambitions from breaking the law."

Assistant United States Attorney Jamie Lea Nabors Schoen of the Columbia office handled the case.


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