Two Sentenced for Using Harris County Inmate Stolen Identities to Commit Tax Fraud
HOUSTON – Two men from Houston have been ordered to prison following their convictions of using personal identifying information stolen from Harris County inmates to submit false and fraudulent individual income tax returns to the IRS, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Brandon Banks, 35, and Cal Williams, 30, 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 April 25, 2016, while Banks also pleaded to one count of aggravated identity theft.
Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt handed Banks a sentence of 15 months for conspiracy to commit wire fraud as well as an additional 24 months for the aggravated identity theft, to be served consecutively. The total 39-month sentence will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. Williams was ordered to serve a 24-month term of probation. In handing down the sentence, Judge Hoyt ordered Banks and Williams to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $69,827, and $3,742, respectively.
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.
Banks and Williams were permitted to remain on bond. Banks will voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility on a date to be determined in the near future.
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.