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Press Release

Baton Rouge Resident Convicted Of Stealing Federal Dollars In Fraudulent Tax Refund Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Walt Green announced that LAGUARDIA COSTON, age 28, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge James J. Brady to theft and conversion of government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641.  During the guilty plea hearing, COSTON admitted to preparing and filing numerous fraudulent tax returns using stolen personal identifiers, such as names and social security numbers, of 73 separate victims. In addition, COSTON admitted to unlawfully obtaining $102,000 in tax refunds from the U.S. Treasury.

As a result of IRS data analysis, COSTON was identified as a suspect in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns. In many instances, COSTON used names and social security numbers of unknowing victims to prepare fraudulent W-2 Forms that were then used to electronically file the fraudulent tax returns. COSTON also admitted to unlawfully obtaining tax refunds in the form of U.S. Treasury checks and electronic bank deposits.

U.S. Attorney Green stated: “This case is another example of my office working in conjunction with the IRS to aggressively identify and prosecute criminals who use stolen identities to defraud the United States and unlawfully obtain money to satisfy their own greed.  We look forward to continuing our work with IRS-CI and other investigative agencies in the fight against such conduct.”

Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Jerome R. McDuffie, stated:  “We are pleased with Ms. Coston’s conviction.  Identity theft is an on-going problem and IRS-CI will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those engaged in these illegal activities.  Our agency will continue to work with the United States Attorney's Office to aggressively protect innocent taxpayers and preserve the integrity of our tax system.  Participation in refund fraud schemes does not pay and those who do so will be prosecuted and held accountable for their illegal activities.”

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.  This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Pugliese.

Updated February 4, 2016