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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seven Individuals Charged With Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

Jackson, Miss – Gregory K. Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, Gabriel Grchan, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, Allen Bryant, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and Keith Morris, Inspector in Charge, U. S. Postal Inspection Service, announced recent indictments against seven individuals for stolen identity refund fraud.


Stolen identity refund fraud occurs when a person, without permission, uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund. This tax fraud tops the Internal Revenue Service’s list Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013.*


Alicia Haslett, 30, of Jackson, Rickey McDuffey, 36, of Jackson, and Johnny Coleman, 54, of Jackson, are charged in a seven-count indictment with conspiracy, theft of government funds, and aggravated identity theft. The indictment alleges over $270,000 was stolen from the government as a result of this conspiracy.


Christopher Johnson, 31, of Hattiesburg, is charged in a twelve-count indictment with conspiracy, theft of government funds, and aggravated identity theft.


Eric Sutton is charged in a fifteen-count indictment with conspiracy, theft of government funds, and aggravated identity theft.


Erica Porter, 30, of Jackson, and Obadiah Herring, 36, of Terry, are charged in a sixteen-count indictment with conspiracy, theft of government funds, and aggravated identity theft.


Over the past seven months, 16 defendants have been indicted on charges related to stolen identity refund fraud. Multiple co-conspirators have been identified and charged related to the theft and use of identifying information from a local prison and also from a hospital facility. The stolen identities were used in the preparation and filing of fraudulent income tax returns.


Marietta Harris is a return preparer allegedly related to many of these schemes. Harris has been charged with Identity Theft, Conspiracy, and Theft of Public Funds. Co-Conspirators, Ladonna Cooper, Tony Jones, Nikki Thomas, Shekeila Jones, and S’ade Tyler have all entered guilty pleas to related charges. Co-conspirator Ciara Gooden has entered a guilty pea related to charges of Identity Theft and Theft of Public Funds.


Marietta Harris is also charged in an identity theft scheme along with Pamlia Johnson and Diandra Thomas. Harris, Johnson and Thomas have all entered not guilty pleas and are awaiting trial.


“Identity theft is a serious crime which exploits some of the most vulnerable members of
our community. When combined with tax refund fraud, it threatens the financial security of our
citizens,” said Gregory Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. “This
office will continue to work with the Internal Revenue Service, United States Secret Service, and
U.S. Postal Inspection Service to prosecute those who cause harm to the U.S. taxpayers and
those persons whose identities are is stolen.”


“In recent months, 16 defendants have been indicted on charges related to identity theft in
the Southern District of Mississippi,” stated Gabriel Grchan, IRS Special Agent in Charge of the
New Orleans Field Office. “These indictments are just the beginning of our pursuit of those who
defraud the American taxpayer.”


“U.S. Postal Inspectors are responsible for protecting the sanctity of the nation's mail
system. We remain resolute in our investigative efforts to bring those to justice who are
responsible for fraudulently utilizing the U.S. Mail system in the furtherance of their schemes.
Make no mistake, those who choose this path will not get away with it,” said Keith Morris,
Inspector in Charge, Atlanta Division.


These cases are investigated by the Jackson ID Theft Task Force which includes IRS
Criminal Investigation, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. They are handled
by the Economic Crimes Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys
Scott Gilbert and Pat Lemon are in charge of the prosecutions.


If you believe that you or someone you know may have had a tax return filed under your
name as the result of identity theft, please visit www.IRS.gov, call 1-800-829-1040 or visit your
local IRS office for further information.


The public is reminded that the charges contained in an indictment are merely
accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


*For an IRS press release on Dirty Dozen Tax Scams go to: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRSReleases- the-Dirty-Dozen-Tax-Scams-for-2013


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If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at:

(866) 720-5721

You can also fax information to:

(225) 334-4707

or e-mail it to:

disaster@leo.gov


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