Beachwood pair charged in a tax I.D scam

Tax return check

(Cleveland) - A mother and daughter from Beachwood were charged in a 29-count federal indictment with stealing the identities of more than a dozen people and filing false tax returns, said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman and IRS Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner.

Aesha Johnson, 40, and Brittany Williams, 23, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of aggravated identity theft.

Investigators claim, Williams and Johnson conspired together to use stolen identities to file false tax returns with the IRS, seeking tax refunds. Johnson acquired many of these identities through a previous criminal fraud scheme, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, Johnson and Williams used an address associated with the family on East 142nd Street in Cleveland as the address of record for many of the false tax returns. They often communicated with each other using a code that referred to the victims using numbers 1 through 31, and created and used fictitious email accounts in the names of the victims to communicate with the IRS, according to the indictment

Agents contend, Williams filed the false tax returns online, obtained prepaid debit cards in the names of the identity-theft victims and requested the IRS deposit the refunds onto those cards. Williams then withdraw cash or made purchases with the cards, according to the indictment.

“This pair stole people’s identities then used it to steal from taxpayers,” Herdman said.

“Tax season is almost here and the indictment of Aesha Johnson and Brittany Williams for committing aggravated identity theft is a powerful reminder of what can happen when you decide to steal from honest taxpayers and the IRS,” Korner said. “Filing fraudulent tax returns in the names of other individuals may result in significant harm to those individuals whose identities were stolen, as well as a monetary loss against the U.S. Treasury."

(Photos by Getty Images) 

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