Sarasota Woman Pleads Guilty To Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Mazie Hill (50, Sarasota) has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property and identity theft. She faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, Hill and others processed debit and credit cards in other people’s names containing tax refunds generated by fraudulent tax returns through a Square, Inc. account. Square, Inc. is a merchant processor that provides terminals to businesses to process credit and debit card payments. Hill and others set up the merchant accounts related to a restaurant located in the Middle District of Florida where Hill worked. The accounts were supposed to be used to process payments for restaurant and bar services only. Instead, they were used to process credit and debit card transactions for both legitimate restaurant-related sales and for tax fraud transactions using prepaid debit cards such as Green Dot. After the payments were processed, Square, Inc. electronically transferred the funds to Hill’s bank account and to the accounts of others, where the proceeds were shared and used for personal items.
The Green Dot cards containing fraudulent tax refunds were brought to Hill at the restaurant by others. Often, Hill and her co-conspirators would swipe the cards in declining amounts until a transaction was accepted. Between August and November 2012, Hill conducted 115 successful transactions with Green Dot cards had been funded with false tax refunds, in the amount of nearly $90,000. Almost $55,000 in transactions were declined.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen.