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Press Release

Gibsonton Couple Pleads Guilty To Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Ynessa Brown and Thelonius Robertson today pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit tax fraud and aggravated identity theft. Each faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge, to be followed by two years in federal prison for the identity theft charge.  Robertson and Brown have agreed to make full restitution and pay a money judgment of $767,398, the proceeds of the conspiracy.

According to court documents, between January 2012 and June 2013, Brown and Robertson used stolen identities to electronically file false and fraudulent tax returns.  Many of those false tax returns were filed jointly, in two names, and in many cases, one or both victims was deceased. 

Brown and Robertson directed the refunds from the fraudulent filings to debit cards, many in other people’s names. The debit cards were sent directly to Brown and Robertson, as well as to their friends and family, and to vacant addresses.  Brown and Robertson spent the fraudulently obtained tax refund money at various retail locations and also obtained cash via ATM withdrawals.  In total, Brown and Robertson filed false tax returns requesting more than $2.7 million from the IRS.

This case was brought as part of the Tampa Bay Identity Theft Alliance, an initiative dedicated to combating the scheme of using stolen identities to file fraudulent federal income tax refund claims.   It was investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen is prosecuting the case.

Updated March 30, 2016

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft