Columbus Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty To Filing Over 180 Fraudulent Tax Returns
Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that Danielle Wallace, age 36, of Columbus, Georgia, entered a plea of guilty on May 5, 2015 to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and filing false income tax returns before the Honorable Clay D. Land, U.S. District Court Judge, in Columbus, Georgia.
As a part of her plea agreement, Ms. Wallace admitted she filed over 180 fraudulent tax returns between January 1, 2014 and March 24, 2014. During this time, Ms. Wallace was employed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield fielding telephone calls from customers. She would obtain personal information from the customers during the calls and then file false income tax returns through “Simple Cash 1”, a tax preparation business she owned and operated in Columbus. The attempted and actual loss, the amount of funds which was obtained by fraud, is approximately $494,000.
For the wire fraud charge, Ms. Wallace faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1,000,000, or both. For aggravated identity theft, she faces a mandatory sentence of 2 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence. The charge of filing false income tax returns carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
“Ms. Wallace took advantage of those who trusted her and came to her for help. She took advantage of her employer as well using the information she obtained in her job to do this. She then took advantage of the public by using this information to get income tax refunds to which she was not entitled,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.
“Instead of providing customer service Ms. Wallace used her position with Blue Cross Blue Shield to steal the identities of unsuspecting individuals and file fraudulent tax returns through a company she owned,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent In Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot. “Ms. Wallace’s actions have caused insurmountable hardship to these innocent victims. Today’s plea is an example of the hard work IRS CI and its law enforcement partners continue to perform in an effort to protect the American taxpayer.”
“The Secret Service remains committed to protecting our nation’s financial security, to include aggressively investigating those responsible for using stolen identities to defraud the United States. Along with our law enforcement partners we will continue to pursue those committing these crimes,” said Clint A. Bush, Resident Agent in Charge, Albany, Georgia Resident Office, United States Secret Service.
The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Melvin E. Hyde, Jr. and Chuck Byrd are prosecuting the case for the Government.
Questions concerning this case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603.