Pelham man arrested in connection to $1 million tax fraud scheme

FROM STAFF REPORTS

BIRMINGHAM— A Pelham man was arrested in connection to a stolen identity tax-refund scheme believed to involve more than $1 million in false claims, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

1-6 IRS tax fraud

Lashon Roberson, who was allegedly a co-conspirator, was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and four counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution.

Roberson, 36, was arrested in conjunction with the arrests of Nakeisha Hall, Jimmie Goodman and Abdulla Coleman for their alleged involvement in the scheme, which was operated out of Birmingham from 2008 to 2011.

The scheme involved stealing personal identity information from the Internal Revenue Service to create fraudulent tax returns and collect the stolen refunds, according to U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance with IRS Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Karl A. Stiften and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Ruben Florez.

Hall, 39, worked in the IRS taxpayer advocate service office in Birmingham from July 2007 to November 2011. Since November 2011, Hall has worked in taxpayer advocate service offices in Omaha, Neb., New Orleans, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Federal agents arrested Hall in Holly Springs, Miss., on Dec. 22. Federal agents also arrested 37-year-old Goodman, of Birmingham, at her Cherry Avenue residence. Coleman, 37, is already in state custody in Wisconsin on unrelated charges.

“Taxpayers trust, and expect, that IRS employees, as a whole, will safeguard their most sensitive personal information,” Vance said. “Taxpayers also must trust that IRS employees in the taxpayer advocate service will not only protect their sensitive information, but will actively assist them when it has been compromised by others.”

Hall, Goodman and Coleman were all charged with conspiring with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury to commit bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution.

The indictment also charges Hall with one count each of theft of government funds, aggravated identity theft and unauthorized access to a protected computer.

Hall, Goodman, Coleman and others allegedly conspired to defraud both the IRS and financial institutions, including Bancorp Bank, between January 2008 and November 2011, and used the U.S. mail to execute the fraud, according to the indictment.

Hall, Goodman, Coleman and others also conspired to obtain money from Bancorp Bank and other financial institutions. Bancorp Bank and other financial institutions issue stand-alone debit cards for the purpose of accepting tax refunds.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum prison penalty for theft of government funds is 10 years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term, and unauthorized access to a protected computer carries a maximum five-year prison term. All three charges carry a maximum $250,000 penalty.

“An IRS taxpayer advocate who exploits that trust, and with full knowledge of the significant impacts of identity theft, uses her IRS access to compromise taxpayers’ identities and steal a million dollars from the U.S. Treasury is committing a particularly egregious crime that will not go unpunished,” Vance said. “I thank the TIGTA and IRS-CI investigators who worked diligently with my office to bring this case forward.”