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Press Release

April 15Th Brings Indictment For Six Women In Identity Theft And Tax Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – Six Memphis women were charged today with a total of 41 counts of fraud related to filing false income tax returns and identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III and Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, Nashville Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigations.

Melissa Harris, age 35; Erin Crutcher, age 27; Angela Jacocks, age 40; Breunca Sutton, age 28; Jennifer Freeman, age 38; and Vivian Sholar, age 34; were indicted for conspiracy to steal government funds, stealing government funds through the filing of false income tax returns, and aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, between August 6, 2010 and July 27, 2011, the women unlawfully obtained personal identifying information of victims, including high school students, and used this information to electronically file false federal income tax returns claiming refund amounts. They filed over 800 false returns, and directed over $1,300,000 of the generated refunds into the bank accounts of Crutcher, Jacocks, Sutton, Freeman and Sholar. Each of the conspirators received part of the refunds for their personal benefit and use.

Harris is charged with one count of conspiracy, 20 counts of theft of government funds and 20 counts of aggravated identity theft.

Crutcher, Jacocks, Sutton, Freeman, and Sholar are each charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of theft of government funds and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

The conspiracy charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. The theft of government funds charges carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory two year sentence to be served consecutively.

“The facts as outlined in the indictment insult the tens of millions of honest citizens who play by the rules and file their taxes in a timely and accurate manner,” said U.S. Attorney Stanton. “Anyone who participates in such a scheme should understand there is be a price to be paid and that our office will seek to collect in full.”

“Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office, remain vigilant in identifying, investigating and prosecuting those individuals who seek to willfully defraud the United States Treasury and show blatant disregard to the harm caused to the victims of their schemes,” said Special Agent in Charge Henry.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigative Division. Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hall is prosecuting the case for the government.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Updated March 19, 2015