Two Convicted of Using Harris County Inmate Stolen Identities to Commit Tax Fraud
HOUSTON – Two men from Houston have entered guilty pleas to using stolen personal identifying information stolen from Harris County inmates to submit false and fraudulent individual income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Brandon Banks, 35, and Cal Williams, 29, admitted they used the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of unsuspecting Harris County inmates and others in Houston to submit false tax returns claiming refunds of several thousand dollars.
Both pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, while Banks also pleaded to one count of aggravated identity theft.
The men devised and executed the scheme beginning in approximately January 2012 and continuing until December 2013. Specifically, in February 2013, Banks provided Williams with lists containing the means of identification of individuals for the purpose of electronically filing false federal tax returns by interstate wire. Shortly thereafter, Williams provided the stolen personal identifying information to a person who was cooperating with law enforcement and instructed that individual to electronically submit a fraudulent claim for a tax refund.
The next month, at the direction of law enforcement agents, the person cooperating with law enforcement met with Williams and gave him approximately $1,942, his purported share of the false tax refund.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt, accepted the pleas today and has set sentencing for July 11, 2016. At that time, both face up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Banks will also face a mandatory minimum of 24 months which much be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. Both were permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vernon Lewis is prosecuting the case.