Alabama Woman Pleads Guilty to a Sophisticated Million Dollar Identity Theft Scheme
Defendant Also Pleads Guilty in a Separate Case for Filing False Returns for Clients
Antoinette Djonret pleaded guilty today in two cases: one involving the filing of more than a million dollars worth of false tax returns using stolen identities and the other case involving the filing of false tax returns for clients, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.
On Aug. 9, 2012, a federal grand jury in Montgomery, Ala., returned a superseding indictment charging Djonret and five others for conspiring to file false tax returns using stolen identities and various other charges. Djonret had earlier been charged with making false claims in a criminal complaint that was filed on Feb. 22, 2012, and in an indictment that was filed on March 28, 2012. Djonret pleaded guilty in this case to one count of conspiring to file false tax returns and one count of aggravated identity theft.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate criminals stealing people’s identities and robbing the public fisc,” said Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “We will prosecute and seek just punishment against those who commit stolen identity refund fraud.”
“Identity theft causes victims great harm,” stated George L. Beck, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. “It victimizes honest taxpayers and causes them an enormous amount of hardship. We will continue to work tirelessly to rid our citizens of this horrible crime.”
According to the court documents, between October 2009 and April 2012, Djonret and her co-conspirators filed more than 1,000 false tax returns that claimed more than $1.7 million in fraudulent tax refunds. Djonret obtained stolen identities from multiple sources, including Alabama state databases. She and her co-conspirators filed most of the tax returns from her residence in Montgomery. They used an elaborate network of individuals to launder the tax refunds and recruited individuals to purchase prepaid debit cards to which the fraudulent tax refunds were directed. Djonret and her co-conspirators would then use the prepaid debit cards to obtain the proceeds.
In March 2012, the owner of a Montgomery tax preparation business and five return preparers, one of whom was Djonret, were charged with conspiring to defraud the United States and aiding in the filing of false tax returns. According to court documents, in 2007 and 2008, Djonret was employed as a tax preparer at Premier Tax in Montgomery. Djonret received instructions on how to file false tax returns and admitted to filing false tax returns for real clients. She pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the presentation of a false tax return in relation to this case.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 6, 2013. Djonret faces between two and 15 years in prison, three years of supervised release, restitution and a maximum fine of $750,000, or twice the loss caused by the offense.
Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. commended the efforts of special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Jason H. Poole, Justin Gelfand and Michael Boteler, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Morris, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.