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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tampa Woman Indicted On 24 Counts Of Tax Fraud

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Erica Lambert with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States Treasury and to commit wire fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud, and eight counts of aggravated identity theft, all in connection with filing fraudulent tax returns in other people’s names. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge, ten years on each wire fraud charge, and 2 consecutive years’ imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft offenses. The indictment also notifies Lambert that the United States intends to forfeit any assets that are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense. Lambert was arrested and made her initial appearance on May 19, 2014.

According to the indictment, Lambert, and others, electronically filed false tax returns, each claiming fraudulent refunds, using stolen and fraudulently-obtained means of identification of others. Lambert and others kept track of the fraudulently-filed returns and refunds in detailed ledgers. The fraudulent tax refunds came in the form of U.S. Treasury checks and debit cards, which Lambert and others used to obtain cash and goods for their other personal use.    

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Tampa Police Department.  It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley Howard-Allen.

This case was brought as part 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.  The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office are working together on this joint investigative and enforcement effort.

Updated January 26, 2015