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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 10, 2014

Massena Woman Pleads Guilty To Identity Theft Fraud

Involved false income tax returns of over $200,000

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK –United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and IRS-Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen announced that Lacey Jane Hollinger, 27, of Massena, New York pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Syracuse, New York to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in a case involving false federal income tax returns that resulted in the theft of over $200,000.00 from the IRS. Hollinger admitted that in 2011 and 2012 she contacted Massena area residents via Facebook and other electronic media to tell them they were eligible for a tax refund even though they were unemployed and had no income as part of a U.S. Government “stimulus program.” No such program existed. Several dozen responded, giving Hollinger their personal identification information (date of birth, social security number, etc.). Hollinger forwarded this information to others who used it to create false and fraudulent tax returns that generated over $200,000.00 in tax refunds. Hollinger, and others involved in the fraudulent scheme, stole these funds after they were electronically deposited in bank accounts they controlled in Arizona.

The Massena area residents never saw the tax returns, which falsely represented that they were self-employed and entitled to a refund. Some did get pre-paid debit cards that Hollinger and others caused them to receive in the mail. Many got nothing, with Hollinger and the other fraudsters keeping most of the refund money.

“Identify theft and false income tax filings are two crimes that are increasingly affecting the public,” stated United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. “The most important thing for citizens to remember is to never give their personal identifying information out to people they don’t know or who shouldn’t need that information.”

At sentencing on February 6, 2015, Lacey Jane Hollinger faces a maximum sentence of up to twenty (20) years for her conviction for mail fraud and a fine of up to $250,000.00 as well as restitution. She faces an additional maximum sentence of up to twenty (20) years for her plea of guilty to aggravated identity theft, with a mandatory minimum term of two (2) years imprisonment to be served consecutively to her mail fraud sentence. She faces up to three (3) years of supervised release following her release from prison.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (Syracuse, New York Field Office), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard Southwick.

Updated January 29, 2015