Three Indicted in Alabama in Conspiracy to Obtain Tax Refunds Using Stolen Identities
Chiquanta Davis, Terrence Davis and Laurekshia Blakely were charged in a superseding indictment by a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Alabama on multiple counts stemming from an identity theft and tax fraud scheme, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. The 34-count indictment charges all three with conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false claims. Chiquanta Davis is also charged with filing false claims, theft of government funds, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Terrence Davis and Laurekshia Blakely are also charged with theft of government funds.
Chiquanta Davis had been charged in the initial indictment in this case, which was returned Aug. 31, 2011. The superseding indictment charges Terrence Davis and Laurekshia Blakely and adds additional charges against Chiquanta Davis.
According to the superseding indictment, the three defendants conspired to fraudulently obtain federal income tax refunds by filing tax returns using stolen identities. Chiquanta Davis obtained the stolen identity information and used the stolen identities to electronically file false tax returns that in total requested over $700,000 in false tax refunds. Chiquanta Davis directed the refunds to be deposited into bank accounts and prepaid debit cards. Chiquanta Davis, Terrence Davis and Laurekshia Blakely made their bank accounts available to receive proceeds.
“These cases are an example of how these criminals use innocent peoples’ identities for their financial gain,” said U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama George L. Beck. “To steal these victims’ identities and use them to file fraudulent tax returns not only makes the United States 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.”
“Identity theft that leads to tax fraud threatens both individual U.S. citizens and the U.S. government,” said John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “The Justice Department and the IRS will continue to cooperate in investigating and prosecuting these crimes to the fullest extent of the law. In our technology-driven society, this simply must be a top priority.”
“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.”
An indictment or superseding indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, all the defendants face a potential maximum of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy charge and five years in prison for each theft of government funds count. Chiquanta Davis faces a potential maximum of five years in prison for each false claims count, 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and a mandatory two-year jail sentence for each aggravated identity theft count, to run concurrently with any other sentence imposed. All the defendants are also subject to fines and mandatory restitution if convicted.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial attorneys Jason H. Poole and Michael Boteler of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.