PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) – The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Friday that a Phenix City woman and a Columbus man have been convicted due to their involvement in a tax fraud scheme that resulted in fraudulently filing for more than $3 million in refunds.
Carnisha Alexander, of Phenix City, was sentenced to 111 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $840,692 in restitution after her and her co-conspirator, Robert Walker, of Columbus, both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Walker was sentenced to serve 94 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $840,692 in restitution on Feb. 5.
According to documents and statements made in court, Alexander, Walker and their co-conspirators used stolen identities from more than 900 falsely filed tax returns created between January 2011 and December 2013.
The amount associated with those false tax returns total up to $3.4 million in refunds.
The DOJ states that Alexander obtained stolen identities from various sources, including the identities of employees from a Columbus company.
From there, the DOJ states that Alexander, Walker and their co-conspirators obtained several IRS Electronic Filing Numbers and filed multiple tax returns for sham tax businesses. Once refunds were sent via U.S. Treasury checks, prepaid debit cards and direct deposits to banks, the money was used and cashed in a bank account controlled by Walker.
"One of the Tax Division's highest priorities is prosecuting individuals such as Carnesha Alexander, Robert Walker and their co-conspirators, who use stolen identities to file fictitious income tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds," acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo said. "This street crime threatens the very fabric of tax administration and often victimizes the most vulnerable members of our communities. The Tax Division is committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to identify these schemes, dismantle the criminal operations and punish the offenders who view the Federal Treasury as their own personal bank account."
The case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation special agents, and prosecuted by trial attorneys Michael C. Boteler, Charles M. Edgar Jr., and Gregory P. Bailey of the tax division with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd A. Brown of the Middle District of Alabama.