Jury Convicts Dayton Man Of Buying Stolen Identities Online, Filing False Income Tax Returns, And Access Device Fraud
DAYTON – A United States District Court jury convicted Lance Ealy, 28, of Dayton, of buying stolen identities online and using the identities to file more than 150 fraudulent federal income tax returns seeking refunds to which he was not entitled.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Kathy Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS), and Mark Porter, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, announced the verdict reached today which was returned following an 11-day trial that began on November 3 before U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett.
According to court testimony, between approximately January 2013 and October 2013, Ealy electronically filed at least 150 fraudulent federal income tax returns, including returns filed using the personal information of others that he had unlawfully acquired from an illicit online source. Ealy opened dozens of bank accounts at multiple financial institutions using the names and social security numbers of other individuals – without their knowledge or permission – in order to electronically deposit the fraudulent tax refunds.
The jury convicted Ealy of 46 charges, including one count of illegally possessing 15 or more unauthorized access devices, 11 counts of filing false claims for income tax refunds with the IRS, 14 counts of wire fraud, 14 counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of mail fraud, and one count of using unauthorized access devices to obtain $1,000 or more in a one-year period. An access device includes things such as payment cards and bank account numbers used to access financial accounts.
Ealy faces up to 10 years in prison on each count of possessing 15 or more unauthorized access devices with intent to defraud and using unauthorized access devices to obtain items of $1,000 or more in value; up to five years in prison on each count of filing false claims for income tax refunds with the IRS; up to 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud and each count of mail fraud; and mandatory two-year sentences on each count of aggravated identity theft that must run consecutive to whatever sentence may ultimately be handed down. Each count of conviction also carries a fine of up to $250,000.
Ealy was initially charged in a federal complaint filed on October 28, 2013 following an investigation by Secret Service agents that revealed that Ealy had purchased stolen identities from an illicit online source. A federal grand jury initially indicted Ealy in November 2013, charging him with one count of knowingly possessing 15 or more access devices with intent to defraud.
“Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” stated Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “We, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney's Office, continue to do our part in protecting the integrity of the tax system and those individuals whose identities were stolen.”
Ealy became a fugitive this past weekend, after he removed his electronic monitoring device and fled while under bond conditions. Judge Barrett has issued a warrant for Ealy’s arrest. Ealy remains at large and the public is asked to contact the United States Marshal at 937-225-2917 with reliable information regarding Ealy’s whereabouts.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the investigation of this case by Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation agents and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex R. Sistla and Andrew J. Hunt, who are prosecuting the case.