Phenix City woman sentenced for involvement in tax refund fraud scheme

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A Phenix City woman was sentenced to serve 51 months in jail followed by a three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $116,636 in restitution for her role in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme.

“Prosecuting stolen identity refund fraud remains a top priority of the department,” said Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo. “Individuals engaged in this criminal conduct not only cause millions of dollars in financial losses to the IRS, but inflict long-term economic and personal consequences on those US taxpayers whose private information is stolen. Thes Tax Division will continue to work with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat this serious fraud on the American public, and seek lengthy terms of incarceration for those responsible.”

According to 2013 court documents Benita E. Short, conspired with others to defraud the United States by filing false federal income tax returns using stolen identities. Short obtained personal identifiable information, including names, social security numbers, addresses and dates of birth, without the individuals’ authorization.

A co-conspirator obtained the stolen personal identifiable information from an individual who had access to Alabama state databases and obtained Electronic Filing Identification Numbers in the names of several tax preparation businesses, and provided this information to Short. Short then used the stolen identities and EFINs to electronically file 326 fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, causing a tax loss of $456,853.

Short also caused income tax refund checks that were issued as a result of the fraudulent tax returns to be cashed at several businesses in Alabama and Georgia. For her role in the conspiracy, Short pleaded guilty in October 2015 to conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft.

 

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