Alabama and Georgia Residents Sentenced to Prison for Their Participation in $3 Million Identity Theft Scheme
Charnesha Alexander, a Phenix City, Alabama, resident was sentenced yesterday to serve 111 months in prison for her role in a more than $3 million Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) tax scheme.
Alexander was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and order to pay restitution in the amount of $840,692. On Feb. 5, a co-conspirator in the scheme, Robert Walker, of Columbus, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 94 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $840,692. Alexander and Walker each previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of aggravated identity theft, Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department's Tax Division and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. of the Middle District of Alabama announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between January 2011 and December 2013, Alexander, Walker and their co-conspirators used stolen identities to file more than 900 false tax returns that requested approximately $3.4 million in tax refunds. Alexander obtained stolen identities from various sources, including the identities of employees from a company in Columbus. In order to file the false tax returns, Alexander, Walker and their co-conspirators applied for and obtained several Electronic Filing Numbers (EFINs) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the names of sham tax businesses. The tax refunds claimed on the false returns were paid via U.S. Treasury checks mailed to addresses under the control of participants in the scheme, prepaid debit cards issued by financial institutions, and deposits to financial institutions connected to the business EFINs that allowed participants in the scheme to print refund checks. Walker and his co-conspirators cashed the fraudulent refund checks at several businesses located in Alabama and Walker deposited fraudulent refund checks into a bank account he controlled.
“One of the Tax Division’s highest priorities is prosecuting individuals such as Charnesha Alexander, Robert Walker and their co-conspirators, who use stolen identities to file fictitious income tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo. “This street crime threatens the very fabric of tax administration and often victimizes the most vulnerable members of our communities. The Tax Division is committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to identify these schemes, dismantle the criminal operations and punish the offenders who view the Federal Treasury as their own personal bank account.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Beck commended the special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Michael C. Boteler, Charles M. Edgar Jr. and Gregory P. Bailey of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd A. Brown of the Middle District of Alabama. Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at the division website.