Taking Back the ID

During tax season beware risks of losing your identity

You’re ahead of the curve — you’ve filed your tax return early, but then you discover that a fraudster has stolen your PII and already filed one in your name. You’re a victim of the stolen identity federal income tax refund fraud scheme.

Most mail carriers are honest and hard-working employees. But some residents of Phenix City, Alabama, are glad not to see mailman Demetrius Jones come to their houses anymore. On Aug. 29, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Jones for his role in a fraudulent federal income tax refund scheme. His co-conspirators allegedly filed fake federal income tax returns for refunds after stealing personally identifiable information (PII) from numerous sources, including a state of Alabama database. They would then direct the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to mail the fraudulent refund checks to addresses on Jones’ postal route. Jones would give the refund checks to his co-conspirators and receive money from them. [See the Aug. 29, 2018, Department of Justice (DOJ) release, Postal Employee Indicted in a Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme.]

According to the DOJ, “If convicted, Jones faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud, and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. The defendant also faces substantial monetary penalties, supervised release, restitution, and forfeiture.”

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