IRS Employee Sentenced to Nine Years and Two Months in Prison for Leading $1 Million ID Theft Tax Fraud Scheme
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced an IRS employee to nine years and two months in prison for using her access to taxpayer information to lead a complex, multi-year, $1 million stolen identity refund scheme involving hundreds of victims, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, IRS Criminal Investigation, St. Louis Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Karl A. Stiften, and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Mid-States Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Ruben Florez.
NAKEISHA HALL, 40, pleaded guilty in February to theft of government funds, aggravated identity theft, unauthorized access to a protected computer and conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Chief U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre sentenced Hall to nine years and two months in prison on the charges, ordered her to pay $438,187 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, and to forfeit the same amount to the U.S. government as proceeds of criminal activity. Bowdre’s sentence was based in large part on Hall’s role in the extensive scheme and the fact that she abused her position of trust as an IRS employee to commit it.
Hall is the daughter of a long time IRS employee and began working for the IRS in 2000. Hall worked in the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Birmingham from July 2007 to November 2011. After November 2011, she worked in TAS offices in Omaha, Neb., New Orleans, La., and Salt Lake City, Utah. TAS is responsible for assisting taxpayers who are having difficulties with the IRS. TAS works with victims of identity theft and assists them in removing fraudulent tax information from their accounts and in filing corrected tax returns, if necessary.
“This defendant abused her position of trust as an IRS employee, using her access to compromise taxpayers’ identities to attempt to steal more than $1 million from the agency. She successfully claimed more than $400,000 in fraudulent tax refunds,” Vance said. “Hall victimized United States taxpayers and jeopardized the reputation of the IRS and its division that is intended to assist taxpayers experiencing problems resulting from identity theft. Today’s sentence reflects the outrageous and serious nature of her crime.”
“Misusing her position with the Internal Revenue Service, Ms. Hall stole the identities of American taxpayers and filed false tax returns in their names,” Stiften said. “Today, Ms. Hall is being held accountable for her criminal actions. Refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude and with this degree of dishonesty and deceit, deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Violations of federal law, particularly those committed by IRS employees who are entrusted to protect taxpayers’ sensitive information, will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Florez said. “TIGTA will continue to work closely with the United States Attorney's Office to identify, investigate and hold those individuals responsible for their illegal activities.”
Three co-conspirators have pleaded guilty in the case. Lashon Roberson, 36, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Roberson worked for many years in the financial services industry. She was sentenced in July to three years in prison and ordered to pay $119,185 in restitution to the IRS.
Jimmie Goodman, 37, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud. Goodman, who had a prior identity-theft conviction, was sentenced in July to three years and five months in prison and was ordered to pay $82,802 in restitution to the IRS and to forfeit that amount to the government.
Abdulla Coleman, 40, also of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud. He is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 14.
According to court records, Hall led Roberson, Goodman, Coleman and at least one other conspirator in the scheme operated out of Birmingham between 2008 and 2011 that involved stealing personal identity information from the IRS to create fraudulent tax returns, and collecting the stolen refunds that were generated.
The defendants conspired to defraud both the IRS and financial institutions, and used the U.S. mail to execute the fraud. The multi-year conspiracy was conducted as follows, according to court records.
Hall obtained individuals’ names, birth dates and Social Security numbers through unauthorized access to IRS computers. She used the personal identity information to prepare fraudulent income tax returns and submitted them electronically to the IRS. Hall requested that the IRS pay the refunds onto debit cards and directed that the cards be mailed to drop addresses that she controlled. Hall solicited and received drop addresses from Goodman, Coleman, Roberson and at least one other person. The co-conspirators also collected the refund cards from the mail.
Hall activated the cards by using the stolen personal identity information. She and her co-conspirators took the money off the debit cards at ATMs or used the cards for purchases. If the fraudulent returns generated U.S. Treasury checks rather than the requested debit cards, the group used fraudulent endorsements in order to cash the checks. Hall compensated Goodman, Coleman, Roberson and the fifth co-conspirator by giving them a portion of the refund money, or by giving them refund cards for their own use.
The theft, aggravated identity, and unauthorized access counts relate to two specific taxpayers’ information that Hall accessed and used in 2010.
IRS-CI and TIGTA investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Williamson Barnes is prosecuting.