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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Alabama Woman Charged with Conspiracy in $7.5 Million Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Ring

A Phenix City, Alabama, resident was arrested today after being indicted on April 28 by a federal grand jury sitting in the Middle District of Alabama on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced 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.

The indictment charges Talashia Hinton, aka LayLay and LaLa, with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, five counts of wire fraud and five counts of aggravated identity theft.  According to the allegations in the indictment, Hinton participated in a large-scale stolen identity tax refund scheme in which more than 3,000 false tax returns for 2012 and 2013 were filed that claimed more than $7.5 million in fraudulent federal income tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Hinton worked with other individuals who supplied her with IRS electronic filing identification numbers (EFINs) and stolen identities that included personal information so that Hinton could prepare and file false tax returns to claim refunds using those stolen names.  Hinton directed the IRS to pay the refunds by issuing U.S. Treasury checks and direct deposits onto prepaid debit cards.    

If convicted, Hinton faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count, a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft.  Hinton also faces monetary penalties, including fines, forfeiture and restitution.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Beck Jr. commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Michael C. Boteler and Gregory P. Bailey of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross of the Middle District of Alabama, who are prosecuting the case.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

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Updated May 12, 2015