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Press Release

Anderson Woman Sentenced to 105 Months for Fraud Involving Tax Refund Checks

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

Contact Person: Beth Drake (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Helen Jean Anderson, age 57, of Anderson, South Carolina, was sentenced to 105 months for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.  Senior United States District Henry M. Herlong, Jr. of Greenville imposed the sentence and ordered Anderson to pay $407,336.86 in restitution.

The evidence at the change of plea hearing established that Anderson and six co-conspirators, all of whom have been sentenced, would obtain the means of identification of other individuals and then file fraudulent tax returns.  Anderson was the leader of the conspiracy.  Once the treasury checks arrived, Anderson sought ways to negotiate them and recruited check passers in Anderson and Greenwood counties.  The owner of a convenience store in the upstate told law enforcement that Helen Anderson had recently been in the store and claimed to have 200 Treasury checks to cash and said that she would pay the store’s owner $500 per check to cash them.  The owner refused and contacted the police.

On August 6, 2013, a confidential informant working with United States Postal Inspectors met with Helen Anderson and was wired for audio and video.  Anderson gave the informant multiple Treasury checks to cash.  Anderson instructed the informant to bring her the money from the cashing of the checks within two days.  She told the informant that she might have more Treasury checks available to cash once the informant returned the money to her.

In order to hide her ties to the Treasury checks, Anderson paid co-conspirators to allow her to use their addresses so checks and other tax documents would be sent to those addresses and would not obviously be associated with Anderson.

Law enforcement estimates that Anderson and her co-conspirators negotiated $483,294.40 in Treasury checks derived from fraudulent returns.

According to Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman III:  “The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation is committed to protecting the honest taxpayers’ hard-earned money from ID thieves who endeavor to use those funds for their personal aggrandizement.”

Regarding identity theft, Mr. Nettles said the following: “The loss and pain caused by identity theft is enormous. The financial loss in the United States is in the billions of dollars.  Victims spend untold hours trying to undo the damage caused by the offenders.  Preventing and punishing identity thieves is, and will remain, a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

The case was investigated by agents of the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.


Updated February 4, 2016