TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Three Tallahassee residents are accused of trying to file false claims for more than $80,000 in federal tax refunds, according to Pamela Marsh, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The defendants are 32-year-old Kimberly Watson, 35-year-old Malcolm Lipscomb, and 31-year-old Shavone Ricketts, and 37-year-old Alfretta Jones. According to the indictment, they conspired to file false tax returns that included fabricated wage, tax withholding, and tax credit information. When
refunds were issued on the bogus returns, the conspirators reportedly had them deposited into their own bank accounts or placed onto pre-paid debit cards.
Watson, Lipscomb, and Ricketts are also charged with multiple counts of filing false claims, wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft, based on the unauthorized use of the personal identifying information of others.
If convicted of conspiracy, each defendant faces up to ten years in prison. Wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The offense of filing false claims is punishable by five years in prison. Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence.
Jones is additionally charged with obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, and with making false statements and perjury, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Marsh commended the work of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the Leon County Sheriff's Office, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, whose joint investigation led to the indictment in this case.
The case is being prosecuted as part of a Department of Justice initiative to fight stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF). In September 2012, the Department issued Tax Division Directive 144, which sets forth expedited Department review procedures for SIRF cases, enabling law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively to the grave challenges presented in SIRF cases and to prevent the victimization of innocent taxpayers whose identities are stolen by fraudsters.
Assistant United States Attorney Corey J. Smith is prosecuting the case.