Tampa Woman Pleads Guilty To Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Melissa Hayes has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government property. She faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
According to the plea agreement, Hayes conspired with others to commit stolen identity refund fraud by depositing United States Treasury checks in the names of others into a business bank account that had been established for her restaurant/food business. Hayes then withdrew the funds the same day or the following day, spent the money on point-of-purchase items, or transferred the money to her personal bank account. The Treasury checks were fraudulently endorsed with the name of the intended recipient (the victim) and the name of Hayes’s business prior to being deposited. Four of the persons named on the Treasury checks deposited into Hayes’s account were deceased.
Between January and June 2012, Hayes deposited 22 fraudulent government and tax refund checks, totaling more than $160,000, into her business bank account. She used these fraudulently obtained funds for her personal use and shared them with her co-conspirators.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen.