A former seasonal employee with the Internal Revenue Service has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of computer fraud for changing information on IRS computer systems after her friends and relatives paid her to give them bogus First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credits.

Catherine Griffin, 46, of Lithonia, Ga., has been accused by prosecutors of a scheme to fraudulently obtain First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credits for friends and relatives who were not eligible to receive the credits and had not purchased homes during the eligible time period.  Griffin was arraigned Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Christopher Hagy and released on bond. 

From approximately July 2009 to November 2009, Griffin worked as a seasonal employee for the IRS in Chamblee, Ga., processing amended tax returns filed by taxpayers. At her job, she had access to the IRS computer system. The indictment alleges that Griffin used her access to the IRS computer system to alter taxpayer information for approximately four individuals in exchange for payments of $2,000.  

“Millions of law-abiding citizens pay their fair share of taxes and do not have an insider at the IRS changing the numbers on a computer for them so they can pay less taxes,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a statement. “The defendant in this case allegedly was paid to change information in the IRS computer system to make it appear certain taxpayers were eligible for First-Time Homebuyer Credits. Cheating like this has consequences.”

The indictment charges Griffin with four counts of exceeding authorized access of government computers to alter taxpayer data for private financial gain.  The computer fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

This case is being investigated by special agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernita B. Malloy is prosecuting the case.

“Abuse of a federal position by an IRS employee for the purpose of committing tax fraud is abuse of the public trust, plain and simple,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George. “We vigorously investigate all such allegations of wrongdoing by IRS employees and make sure that those who are found to be involved in such fraudulent activity are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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