On Thursday, December 8th, 2016, the Department of Justice announced that a Columbus, Georgia resident was sentenced to 37 months in prison today for her role in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme.
Between June 2012 and December 2013, Tonya Alexander worked as a bank teller at SunTrust Bank in Columbus. Alexander received and cashed fraudulently obtained income tax refund checks in exchange for a fee. Alexander’s co-conspirators, including Tracy Mitchell, Keisha Lanier and others, filed fraudulent income tax returns using stolen identities and directed other co-conspirators to bring the fraudulently obtained refund checks to Alexander to cash. Alexander received and cashed approximately 330 fraudulently obtained tax refund checks that totaled more than $600,000. Alexander also recruited another bank teller, co-conspirator Vicky Wheeler, to assist in cashing the tax refund checks.
On Aug. 5, Alexander pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of public money. In addition to the term of prison imposed, Alexander was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $606,008.38 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Keisha Lanier was previously sentenced to 15 years in prison on Sept. 25, 2015. Tracy Mitchell was sentenced to 13 years and 3 months in prison on Aug. 7, 2015. Department of Justice Tax Division Principal Deputy Caroline Ciraolo commended the work of the IRS Criminal Investigations Division and the Department of Justice Trial Division who investigated and prosecuted the case.