Federal officials said five women in the Baton Rouge area are accused of tax schemes in which more than 1,000 fake federal tax returns were filed for refunds of more than $1.4 million.
Acting US Attorney Walt Green of the Middle District of Louisiana announced Monday charges had been filed against the following suspects:
Holly Green, 28, of Baton Rouge
Mona Hill, 32, of Plaquemine
Ashley Ricks-Stampley, 28, of Baton Rouge
Kimberly Scott, 40, of Baton Rouge
Shywanda Underwood, 39, of Baker
The bills of information stated the women are suspected of stealing personal identification information from people and using it to file fake federal tax returns.
Green is charged with making false claims and identity theft. Officials said between January 2012 and April 2012, Green filed 71 fake tax returns for $123,155 in refunds. If convicted of both counts, she faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. She also faces forfeiture of the alleged ill-gotten gains.
Hill is charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to the bill of information, Hill submitted 488 false tax returns from January 2012 through July 2012 for refunds totaling $661,258. If convicted of wire fraud, she faces up to 20 years in prison. She faces a mandatory two years if convicted of aggravated identity theft. She also faces fines up to $500,000 and forfeiture of the proceeds.
Ricks is charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She is accused of submitting 455 fake tax returns for the 2010 and 2011 tax years resulting in $559,953 in refunds. She faces the same punishment as Hill if convicted of the charges.
Scott is charged with theft of public funds. She is accused of working with another person to steal identification information. The other suspect's name was not given. Officials said she let the other person use her bank account to collect the fake refunds from the fake tax returns. Documents state Scott filed 74 tax returns and $96,497 was deposited into her account. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and forfeiture of the money deposited into the account.
The US Attorney's Office reported Underwood was indicted by a federal grand jury September 11 on four counts of making false claims for tax refunds and four counts of identity theft. Records show she owned and operated a tax preparation business in Baker. She is suspected of using W-2 forms for fake businesses to prepare and submit false tax returns, claiming tax credits and refunds not entitled to the taxpayers. The indictment stated she claimed $20,241 in fraudulent tax returns.
If convicted on all eight counts, Underwood faces up to 40 years in prison and $2 million in fines. She would also have to give up the money she received. The IRS and US Secret Service are investigating her case.
Officials said the charges against the five suspects are the result of an initiative by the US Attorney's Office, IRS Criminal Investigations Division and US Department of Justice Tax Division to combat tax fraud schemes.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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