Convicted Bank Robber, Drug Dealer and Two Others Sentenced to Prison for $1 Million Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Four Portland, Oregon, residents were sentenced today in the U.S. District Court in Portland for a multi-year stolen identity tax refund scheme to defraud the United States of more than $1 million in tax refunds, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams of the District of Oregon.
Jheraun Dunlap, Ernest Bagsby, Jermaine Moore and Brandi McCall were collectively sentenced to serve more than 14 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones. Dunlap, 32, who was previously convicted of bank robbery, was sentenced to serve five years and five months in prison. Bagsby, 37, who was previously convicted of delivery of heroin in Clackamas County, Oregon, was sentenced to serve four years and three months in prison. Moore, 34, was sentenced to serve three years and nine months in prison, and McCall, 27, was sentenced to serve 12 months and one day in prison. All four defendants were ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amount of $427,896.
According to the plea agreements and court documents, the scheme involved the filing of 208 false federal income tax returns that included fraudulent claims for tax refunds between $3,000 and $9,000 per return. Dunlap electronically filed the false tax returns using stolen identities or identities obtained by Bagsby and Moore. McCall opened stored-value debit cards in her own name to receive the refunds. The defendants directed the IRS to deposit the tax refunds onto stored-value debit cards and then the proceeds were shared among the participants in the scheme. In total, as part of the scheme, the defendants requested more than $1 million in tax refunds.
All four defendants were captured on ATM footage withdrawing cash from stored-value debit cards that held the tax refund proceeds. As part of the investigation, a search warrant was executed on the Facebook accounts of multiple co-conspirators, from which federal agents obtained photographs of stacks of cash, among other things. The United States seized and forfeited assets traced to proceeds of the scheme, including a two-carat diamond engagement ring, a Mercedes Benz 500 and a 1971 Pontiac Firebird, both of which were purchased with $20 bills.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and Acting U.S. Attorney Williams commended the special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case as part of the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Task Force, and Trial Attorneys Leslie A. Goemaat and Lori A. Hendrickson of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case. Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon for their substantial assistance.