News and Press Releases

Memphis Pair Earns Long Sentences For
Separate Tax Fraud Schemes

November 14, 2012

Memphis, TN – Two Memphians who ran separate tax fraud schemes that defrauded the government out of nearly $1.5 million dollars have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, announced U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III.

Tamaracina Birdse, age 26, of Memphis, Tennessee, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson to 110 months in prison for her participation in stealing of government funds through the filing of false income tax returns and for Social Security fraud.

Cortneyo Bougard, age 23, of Cordova, Tennessee, was sentenced last week by U.S. Chief District Judge Jon P. McCalla to 87 months in prison for a similar scheme involving the stealing of government funds through the filing of false income tax returns. Bougard was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $473,125.80.

“These cases, and the significant prison sentences imposed on Birdse and Bougard, underscore our commitment to rooting out tax and Social Security fraud,” said United States Attorney Stanton. “Along with the Secret Service and the IRS, we will continue to protect honest taxpayers, retirees, and disabled workers by holding accountable those who try to manipulate the system.”

According to the Information filed with the court and the facts discussed in court, between February 2010 and July 2011, Birdse was responsible for the filing of over 250 false returns using victims= Social Security numbers, claiming refunds. Over $1,014,000 of U.S. Department of Treasury refunds were directed to and electronically deposited into bank accounts controlled by Birdse. After the deposits were made, individuals acting under Birdse=s direction would withdraw the funds from bank accounts and give the funds to Birdse. Birdse would then pay the account holders a portion of the proceeds. The investigation revealed that Birdse had obtained victims’ stolen information from associates of hers.

“Identity theft is a high priority for the U.S. Secret Service Memphis office,” ASAIC Jim Hawkins said. “The U.S. Secret Service will continue to aggressively investigate all cases which impact our community.”

Additionally, it was determined that between November 2007 and December 2009, Birdse applied for and obtained six Tennessee Driver’s Licenses using her sister=s name and Social Security number on the official Tennessee Driver=s License applications. This sister was reported missing in 1999 out of Nashville and has never been located.

It was further revealed that on November 5, 2007, the defendant opened a First Tennessee bank account in the name of her sister and also applied for SSI Survivorship Benefits representing herself to be the newly-found sister. On December 3, 2007, based on the representations in the application, the Social Security Administration deposited approximately $17,000 of back SSI Survivorship payments into the defendant=s First Tennessee bank account.

In Bougard’s case, at different times from 2009 to 2011, he and other individuals obtained the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of individuals without their knowledge or consent, and thereafter filed taxes claiming refunds using this information. Bougard, and others working with him, opened bank accounts and directed the U.S. Department of Treasury tax refunds associated with the false tax returns to be electronically deposited into these accounts. He also paid individuals to obtain the victims= personal identifiers. Bougard used Turbo Tax to electronically file over 100 false tax returns from his business, Carter Customs and fraudulently obtained over $470,000 during the scheme.

There is no parole in the federal prison system. These cases were investigated by the United States Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division. These cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hall on behalf of the government.

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