Owner of Alabama Tax Business Sentenced to More Than 15 Years in Prison for Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Scheme
Marsha Elmore of Wetumpka, Ala., the owner of a tax preparation business called Community Tax, was sentenced today to 184 months in prison, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Elmore used her business to run a scheme to steal tax refunds by filing false tax returns with stolen identities. She had been indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 31, 2011, and pleaded guilty on Nov. 15, 2011, to one count each of filing false claims, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Elmore had previously been sentenced to 60 months in prison for a violation of supervised release, which was based on the conduct for which Elmore was sentenced today. Today’s sentence of 184 months is to run consecutively to her previous sentence of 60 months.
According to court documents, Elmore’s fraudulent activity ran from at least 2009 until July 2011, when she was arrested by the IRS on a criminal complaint. She unlawfully obtained the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of various individuals and used them to file false tax returns through Community Tax. Those tax returns claimed refunds that were directed to bank accounts and debit cards that Elmore controlled. Elmore also filed false tax returns using online filing websites. All together, Community Tax and Elmore were linked to almost 1,400 tax returns during this time period.
In her plea agreement, Elmore admitted that she personally filed many of the returns, a number of which were false. In sentencing Elmore, the court found that the intended tax loss was just over $2.5 million.
“This case is an example of how criminals use innocent people’s identities for their own financial gain. To steal these victims’ identities and use them to file false tax returns not only makes the U.S. tax payer a victim, but also victimizes the unsuspecting person whose identity has been stolen. We will continue to do everything possible under the law to protect these unsuspecting victims from these criminals,” stated George L. Beck, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.
“The Justice Department will remain vigilant in protecting Americans’ identities and tax dollars from thieves,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Those who steal identities and use them to commit tax refund fraud will be punished to the full extent of the law.”
“The IRS is aggressively pursuing those who steal others’ identities in order to file false returns,” said Steven Miller, IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement.“Our cooperative work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Tax Division will help protect taxpayers in Alabama from being victimized by identity theft. The IRS is taking additional steps this tax season to further prevent, detect and resolve identity theft cases as soon as possible.”
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller also ordered Elmore to pay $1,157,241 in restitution.
The case was investigated by special agents of the IRS - Criminal Investigation and was prosecuted by Tax Division trial attorneys Jason H. Poole and Michael Boteler and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.