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Press Release

$555,587 Fraudulent Tax Refund Brings Federal Indictment For Madison Woman

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM -- A federal grand jury today indicted a Madison woman on charges related to a scheme to obtain fraudulent tax refunds that included a $555,587 federal income tax refund deposited into her bank account, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, IRS Criminal Division Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.

A three-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges ANGELIQUE B. HARRIS, 48, with theft of government property, wire fraud and money laundering.

“Combating this type of tax refund scheme is a priority of the Justice Department because it harms the individuals whose identities are misused, as well as all U.S. taxpayers who fund the U.S. Treasury," Vance said. "Stealing from the IRS is stealing from every honest citizen who works hard and pays the taxes they owe. Such criminal conduct will be prosecuted," she said.

“Refund fraud is an egregious offense that affects honest taxpayers," Hyman-Pillot said. "Individuals who participate in refund schemes are stealing from the United States Treasury for personal gain. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation has a zero-tolerance policy for refund fraud," she said. "Anyone who chooses to play a role in this crime will be investigated and ultimately prosecuted.”

“This type of fraud ultimately costs us all in some way," Schwein said. "That is why the FBI will continue working closely with our partners at IRS Criminal Division to hold scam artists and fraudsters to account.”

Count One of the indictment charges that Harris, aided by others who are not named, stole U.S. Treasury refunds between February 2013 and February 2014.

Count Two charges that Harris, again aided by others, committed wire fraud on Oct. 23, 2013, by causing the IRS to transfer a fraudulent $555,587 tax refund electronically from outside of Alabama to Harris' bank account at Iberia Bank in Huntsville. According to the indictment, Harris opened the Huntsville bank account and a fraudulent tax return in the name of a couple, identified in the indictment as “P. and A. O.,” was filed. The fraudulent tax return prompted the $555,587 IRS refund.

Count Three charges Harris with money laundering for using proceeds of the wire fraud on Oct. 28, 2013, to purchase a 2013 Lexus ES350 luxury automobile from a Huntsville dealership.

The indictment seeks to have Harris forfeit proceeds of the money laundering, including the Lexus.

The maximum penalty for theft of government property and money laundering is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The IRS and FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell E. Penfield is prosecuting.

The public is reminded that and indictment contains only charges and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated March 19, 2015