Chicago Woman Indicted For Stealing Identities Of Nursing-Home Residents

A Chicago woman sought federal tax refunds through a series of fraudulent returns she filed in the names of other people, including a number of nursing-home residents who had no knowledge that their personal information was being used, according to a federal indictment announced today.

SHANTELL WINTERS, 28, prepared and electronically filed a dozen individual federal income tax returns that were made out in the names of actual persons whose identities she had acquired, according to the 16-count indictment.  The returns claimed false amounts of income, deductions and losses, including phony wages, withholdings and education credits, the indictment states.

The scam lasted from late 2009 or early 2010 until the middle of 2012, according to the indictment, which was returned Thursday in federal court in Chicago.

Winters was charged with 12 counts of wire fraud, one count of filing a false claim against the United States, and three counts of identity fraud.  An arraignment has been scheduled for Aug. 27, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly.

According to the indictment, some of the individuals knowingly allowed Winters to use their information to file returns and claim refunds in their names.  However, several others – including certain residents of a nursing home facility – had no knowledge that their identities had been used in the scheme, according to the indictment.  In addition to the personal information of the individuals, the indictment states that Winters also used the electronic identification numbers of corporate entities to create fraudulent W-2 Forms that purportedly had been issued by those businesses.

Each wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The count of filing a false claim carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and mandatory restitution.  Each count of identity fraud is punishable by 5 years in prison.  If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel W. Gillogly.

Indictment

SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois

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