A former Internal Revenue Service employee was sentenced Wednesday to nine years and two months in jail for leading a $1 million identity theft scheme that ensnared hundreds of taxpayers.
Nakeisha Hall, 40, a former employee at the Taxpayer Advocate Service, pleaded guilty in February to charges of 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. (see IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Employee Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft). Part of her job involved helping taxpayers resolve their identity theft problems, but she instead used her position to get access to taxpayer information that could be used to claim tax refunds. She has worked for the IRS since 2000 and is also the daughter of a longtime IRS employee.
Judge Karon O. Bowdre sentenced her to over nine years in prison and ordered Hall to pay $438,187 in restitution to the IRS, in addition to forfeiting the same amount of money to the federal government as proceeds of criminal activity. The sentence was based on Hall’s role in the scheme and the fact that she abused her position of trust with the IRS.
Hall worked in the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Birmingham, Ala., between July 2007 and November 2011 and later worked in Omaha, Neb., New Orleans, La., and Salt Lake City, Utah.
“This defendant abused her position of trust as an IRS employee, using her access to compromise taxpayers’ identities to attempt to steal more than $1 million from the agency,” U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said in a statement. “She successfully claimed more than $400,000 in fraudulent tax refunds. Hall victimized United States taxpayers and jeopardized the reputation of the IRS and its division that is intended to assist taxpayers experiencing problems resulting from identity theft. Today’s sentence reflects the outrageous and serious nature of her crime.”
Three co-conspirators also pleaded guilty in the case. Lashon Roberson, 36, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. She worked for many years in the financial services industry and was sentenced last month to three years in jail. Roberson was also ordered to pay $119,185 in restitution to the IRS.
Jimmie Goodman, 37, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud. Goodman had a previous identity-theft conviction and was sentenced in July to three years and five months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $82,802 in restitution to the IRS and to forfeit that amount to the government.
Abdulla Coleman, 40, also of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
According to prosecutors, Hall and the others stole taxpayers’ 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 electronically filed them with the IRS. She asked the IRS to deposit the tax refunds on debit cards and directed that the cards be mailed to drop addresses under her control. Hall solicited and received drop addresses from Goodman, Coleman, Roberson and at least one other person. They also collected the debit cards from the mail.
Hall activated the cards by using the stolen personal information. She and the others withdrew the money from the debit cards at ATMs or used the cards for purchases. If the fraudulent returns generated U.S. Treasury checks instead of the requested debit cards, they used fraudulent endorsements to cash the checks. Hall paid Goodman, Coleman, Roberson and a fifth unidentified co-conspirator by giving them part of the refund money, or giving them refund cards for their own use.
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