Two Women Ordered To Prison In Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
HOUSTON – Yevette Lauren Walton and Lakisha Lashell Rogers have been handed prison sentences for conspiring to submit fraudulent tax refund claims in the names of 53 stolen identities during the 2013 tax season, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Lucy Cruz, special agent in charge of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). Walton and Rogers were prosecuted as part of IRS-CI’s Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) initiative that has resulted in arrests throughout the United States. They entered pleas of guilty May 10, 2013.
“Investigating identity theft and refund fraud is a priority for IRS-CI,” said Cruz. “Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers. We, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney's Office, continue to do our part in protecting the sanctity and integrity of the tax system and those individuals whose identities were stolen, as well as recovering any monetary loss against the U.S. Treasury.”
Today, U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal, who accepted the guilty pleas, handed Walton and Rogers each a sentence of 24 months in federal prison. Both were further ordered to pay $60,000 in restitution to the IRS and to serve a term of three years of supervised release following completion of their prison terms. Judge Rosenthal previously sentenced co-defendant Antoinne Quinay Jackson to six months in federal custody. He has completed that term of imprisonment and is presently serving a three-year-term of supervised release.
Walton and Rogers acknowledged that between Feb. 15, 2013, and Feb. 27, 2013, they met with tax return preparer, Marlin Beckett, interviewed him and concluded he could prepare and electronically file false tax refund claims for them. Walton and Rogers provided this person with approximately 37 names, Social Security numbers and other means of identification. Walton and/or Rogers told the tax return preparer the names were “good” because they had previously been used to get refunds.
The women also provided automated teller machine debit card routing numbers. This way, the refunds, which were expected to total approximately $220,000, could be credited to the cards and easily used to withdraw funds in an untraceable manner. Walton and Rogers then engaged in a number of telephone conversations with the tax return preparer to check on the status of the refund claims.
Upon their arrests on March 8, 2013, Walton and Rogers had another 16 names and other means of identification on them intended to be used to file a second set of false and fraudulent refund claims approximately totaling an additional $200,000. Despite Walton’s and Rogers’ efforts, prompt action by federal law enforcement prevented any actual loss to the National Treasury from the use of the 53 stolen identities during 2013. However, actual losses of about $60,000 and attempted losses of approximately $120,000 have been traced to fraudulent tax refunds in 2012.
Both women will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The tax return preparer, Marlin Beckett, was also sentenced today by Judge Nancy F. Atlas in a separate case. Judge Atlas sentenced Beckett to 36 months in prison and ordered him to make full restitution for preparing false tax returns that generated $196,923 in excessive client refunds. Beckett has been in custody since violating his bond conditions by continuing to prepare client tax returns after his guilty plea on April 10, 2013.
The investigation leading to these charges was conducted by IRS-CI and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Sledge Jr. is prosecuting the case.