Former IRS employee pleads guilty in identity theft for tax refund fraud scheme
There’s a follow-up to an identity theft for refund fraud case involving a rogue IRS employee noted previously on this blog.
Kent Faulk reports that Nakeisha Hall has pleaded guilty and agreed to restitution and forfeiture of $438,187, representing funds actually paid out by IRS as a result of the scheme.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama issued a statement today, which says, in part, that Hall pleaded guilty to theft of government funds, aggravated identity theft, unauthorized access to a protected computer and conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Hall’s sentencing is scheduled June 29.
Hall worked in the Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Birmingham from July 2007 to November 2011. According to the government’s statement, since November 2011, Hall has worked in TAS offices in Omaha, Neb., New Orleans, La., and Salt Lake City, Utah. TAS is responsible for assisting taxpayers who are having difficulties with the IRS. TAS works with victims of identity theft and assists them in removing fraudulent tax information from their accounts and in filing corrected tax returns, if necessary.
A federal grand jury in December indicted Hall, along with JIMMIE GOODMAN, 37, and ABDULLA COLEMAN, 37, both of Birmingham, on charges they took part in the scheme operated out of Birmingham between 2008 and 2011 that involved stealing personal identity information from the IRS to create fraudulent tax returns, and collecting the stolen refunds that were generated.
A separate indictment charged another co-conspirator, LASHON ROBERSON, 36, of Pelham, with the conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution.
Roberson is scheduled to plead guilty on Wednesday.
Goodman is scheduled for trial Feb. 29, and Coleman is to be arraigned on the charges against him on Thursday, after being arrested in Madison, Wis., and transferred to the Northern District of Alabama.
The multi-year conspiracy was conducted as follows, according to the indictments and Hall’s plea:
Hall obtained individuals’ names, birth dates and Social Security numbers through unauthorized access to IRS computers. Hall used the personal identity information to prepare fraudulent income tax returns and submitted them electronically to the IRS. Hall requested that the IRS pay the refunds onto debit cards and directed that the cards be mailed to drop addresses that she controlled. Hall solicited and received drop addresses from Goodman, Coleman, Roberson and at least one other person. The co-conspirators also collected the refund cards from the mail.
Hall activated the cards by using stolen identity information. She, Goodman, Coleman, Roberson and the unnamed co-conspirator took the money off the debit cards at ATMs or used the cards for purchases. If the fraudulent returns generated U.S. Treasury checks rather than the requested debit cards, Hall and her co-conspirators used fraudulent endorsements in order to cash the checks. Hall compensated Goodman, Coleman, Roberson and the fifth co-conspirator by giving them a portion of the refund money, or by giving them refund cards for their own use.
The theft, aggravated identity, and unauthorized access counts relate to two specific taxpayers’ information that Hall accessed and used in 2010.