KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to steal taxpayers’ identity information in order to receive fraudulent tax refunds.
Michael J. Moore, 27, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to the charge contained in a March 18, 2014, federal indictment.
Moore’s girlfriend and co-defendant, Taylor S. Knight, 32, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty on July 25, 2014, to leading the fraud conspiracy. Knight worked as employee of the Internal Revenue Service at the office at 333 W. Pershing Rd., Kansas City. Knight admitted that she abused her position of trust when she inappropriately accessed the information of three taxpayers as part of a conspiracy to defraud the United States by using the stolen identity information to fraudulently induce the IRS into issuing tax refund payments.
On Sept. 30, 2011, Knight used the information from two of the victim taxpayers (who were married) to submit a bogus online application for three prepaid debit cards. These debit cards were issued and mailed to the residence of Moore’s grandmother. Moore monitored the mail sent to his grandmother’s address and retrieved the three prepaid debit cards. They agreed to use the grandmother’s address rather than use an address associated with Knight in an effort to conceal her role in this conspiracy to defraud the United States.
On Oct. 17, 2011, Knight submitted a 2010 tax return for the same two married victim taxpayers. The IRS approved a $46,572 refund, of which $5,000 was deposited on a debit card that had been obtained by Knight; this amount was spent by Moore and Knight. The IRS attempted to deposit the remaining $41,572 refund on the other debit cards obtained by Knight, but the receiving banks rejected the deposits.
Moore telephoned the IRS and falsely claimed to be the victim taxpayer. He provided the IRS representative with pertinent personal identification information for both victims and requested the IRS to send the remaining tax refund to a new address located in Independence, Mo. He identified this address because it was his former residence and he knew it was unoccupied.
In August 2011, the victim taxpayers filed legitimate amended tax returns. A $46,734 refund check was sent to the Independence address and was obtained by Moore and Knight. Knight admitted that she paid a third co-conspirator $500 to help her cash the refund check. Knight obtained false identification documents – including Social Security cards, credit cards and driver’s licenses – so that they could assume the identity of the victim taxpayers. They attempted to cash the stolen Treasury check at a local convenience store. The clerk was concerned about cashing such a large check and he went to his immediate supervisor for guidance. They told the clerk and his supervisor that, if they would cash the check, they could keep $6,000 of the proceeds. The supervisor decided not to cash the check, but he told them to come back later. When Knight and her co-conspirator returned, the owner reported the incident to law enforcement. Police officers arrived about 10 minutes later and they were arrested.
Knight also admitted that she submitted a bogus online application for a prepaid debit card in the name of another victim taxpayer. The debit card was approved and mailed to an address in Oak Grove, Mo.; this debit card was never used. Knight admitted that she submitted this false online application to test whether her scheme to defraud the IRS was viable.
Under federal statutes, Moore and Knight are each subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.