Gibsonton Couple Sentenced To More That Five Years On Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Charges
Tampa, Florida – United States District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich today sentenced Ynessa Brown and Thelonius Robertson, both of Gibsonton, to 61 months in federal prison for conspiring to commit tax fraud and aggravated identity theft. At sentencing, Robertson and Brown were ordered to make restitution to the IRS in the amount of $673,398. In addition, a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $767,398 was entered, representing the total proceeds of their fraud conspiracy.
According to court documents, from January 2012 through June 2013, Brown and Robertson possessed and used stolen identities, including those of deceased persons, to electronically file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS through an Internet service provider in Brown’s name. Many of the false tax returns were filed jointly, and in many cases, one or both of the victims were deceased. Items related to these false returns and refunds, including $94,000 in cash, was seized during a search of Brown’s residence in June 2013.
From these fraudulently filed tax returns, Brown and Robertson directed the tax refunds onto unauthorized debit cards, many in other people’s names, and often to H & R Block Emerald cards, which were sent to either their address, the addresses of friends and family, and/or to vacant addresses. Brown and Robertson used these refunds to purchase merchandise or to make cash withdrawals, mostly from Fifth Third bank ATMs.
This case was brought as part of an initiative dedicated to combating the growing problem of identity theft and the fraudulent filing of electronic tax claims. It was investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen.