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Press Release

Martinez Resident Pleads Guilty In ID Theft Tax Fraud Conspiracy

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

OAKLAND – Lynsey Hartsinck pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims and aggravated identity theft announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.

According to the plea agreement filed late yesterday, in 2013 and 2014, Hartsinck, 30, of Martinez, Calif., devised a scheme to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns and then claiming the fraudulently obtained tax refund payments.  As part of the scheme, Hartsinck conspired with a codefendant to obtain the names and Social Security numbers of at least twelve individuals, most of whom resided in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.  Hartsinck then used the information to prepare and electronically file false tax returns in the names of the individuals without their knowledge or consent. 

Hartsinck obtained the tax returns using several methods.  For example, on some of the fraudulently-obtained tax returns, Hartsinck listed a home in Martinez she was renting at the time.  Hartsinck also opened an account with a UPS store in San Ramon using a false California driver’s license.  The license had Hartsinck’s name and another individual’s picture.  Hartsinck used the UPS account to rent a postal deposit box and then used the postal box as the address on some of the false tax returns.  Hartsinck’s scheme claimed federal tax refunds amounting to at least $198,249.  On many of the fraudulent returns that Hartsinck prepared and filed, she directed the IRS to deposit the fraudulent refunds onto prepaid debit card accounts that she controlled. 

A federal grand jury indicted Hartsinck on June 16, 2015, with conspiracy to file false claims, thirteen counts of wire fraud, three counts of identity theft, and one count of possession of stolen mail.  Pursuant to the plea agreement, Hartsinck pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. 

The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to file false claims is ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  The maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft is two years in prison, to serve consecutively to the underlying felony, and a $250,000 fine.  However, any sentence following this conviction will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Sampson is prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Updated April 19, 2017

Identity Theft