An employee who worked in the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate office in Birmingham, AL is facing multiple charges in an identity theft scheme. Four people were arrested and charged last month including Nakeisha Hall, 39, an IRS employee who worked in the Taxpayer Advocate Service office in a role that was supposed to assist taxpayers experiencing problems resulting from identity theft.
Hall worked in the Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Birmingham from July 2007 to November 2011. Since then, she has worked in Taxpayer Advocate Service offices in Omaha, NE; New Orleans, LA; and Salt Lake City, UT.
Hall allegedly obtained taxpayers’ names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers from IRS computers. She used that information to prepare fraudulent income tax returns and submitted them electronically to the IRS. Refunds were loaded onto debit cards and mailed to drop addresses controlled by Hall and her three co-conspirators. The cards were activated using stolen identity information, then money was withdrawn from the cards at ATMs or the cards were used for purchases. The scheme is believed to involve more than $1 million in false claims, according to U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.
“Taxpayers trust, and expect, that IRS employees, as a whole, will safeguard their most sensitive personal information. 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,” Vance said. “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.”
Hall has been charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution, theft of government funds, aggravated identity theft and unauthorized access to a protected computer. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
By Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA