A New Orleans woman is facing multiple felony charges for a tax fraud scheme that involved filing false state income tax returns in the names of unsuspecting people, including some prison inmates, according to Louisiana authorities.

Thelma Jean Lee is accused of filing dozens of phony Louisiana individual income tax returns and receiving thousands of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds. Investigators say Lee filed 38 false returns, including fake W-2 withholding forms, during the 2010 and 2011 tax years. The owners of the businesses named on those forms said the people identified as having filed the returns were not their employees during those periods.

Many of the people whose names were on the returns were actually locked up in state and local prisons at the time. 

Banking records indicated that Lee directed $11,266 in illegally obtained state income tax refunds to accounts in her name as a result of the alleged fraud.

She was arrested on Wednesday and booked into the prison on 38 felony counts including filing or maintaining false public records, identity theft, and illegal transmission of monetary funds. Lee is the 37th person arrested under a joint anti-tax fraud initiative of the Louisiana Department of Revenue and the state Attorney General’s office.

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