Starkisha Benson of Berkeley, along with Jessika Green of Oakley and Khyber Law of Antioch, were charged in a 22-count indictment on Aug. 20, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
"As part of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly procured the names and identities of individuals through illegal means or by agreement with participants in the scheme," said the news release citing U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez. "The filed returns claimed falsely wages and withholdings."
The criminal complaint filed by an IRS investigator against Benson says she arranged to have the refunded money deposited to Green Dot debit cards and conspired with a Brentwood resident to have multiple debit card sent to the Brentwood resident's address.
The complaint said the Brentwood resident admitted helping Benson obtain identifying information, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, of several individuals, and that Benson promised $1,000 to each of the individuals if they weren't already claimed on anyone else's taxes.
One of the debit cards was used between Aug. 22-29, 2011 to withdraw $1,800 in cash from an ATM machine and to make $3,112.66 in purchases at Raley's, Winco Foods and other businesses, according to the complaint.
The counts filed against the three included fraud, conspiracy to file false claims, filing false claims, effecting fraudulent transactions with an access device, theft of public money and aggravated identity theft. The penalties for each ranged up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, the announcement said.
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