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Hammond woman indicted in identity theft/tax fraud case

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2015 | Views: 9025

Hammond woman indicted in identity theft/tax fraud case
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that RAVEN HUGHES, age 27, of Hammond, was charged today in an eight-count Indictment with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft for engaging in a multi-year tax fraud scheme.

    According to the Indictment, HUGHES obtained the name and social security number of unsuspecting individuals and used that information without their knowledge or authorization to prepare false tax returns that claimed large tax refunds.  The refund checks were mailed to numerous Post Office Boxes opened by HUGHES throughout Louisiana, as well as her residence.  Once the tax refund checks were received, HUGHES falsely endorsed the checks and cashed them.  HUGHES also arranged for some of the refunds to be transmitted electronically into bank accounts under her control.  In total, HUGHES caused not fewer than 148 federal income tax returns to be submitted in the names of at least 103 different individuals without their knowledge or authorization.  As a result of the conduct described above, between 2009 and 2012 HUGHES sought over $646,000 in fraudulent tax refunds from the Department of the Treasury, and she received at least $199,050.

“Our agency will vigorously pursue fraudulent refund claims and those individuals who engage in identity theft,” stated Jerome R. McDuffie, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.  “The message to be taken from today’s court action against Ms. Hughes is simple.  We will continue to work with the United States Attorney's Office to aggressively protect innocent taxpayers and preserve the integrity of our tax system.  Participation in refund fraud schemes does not pay and those who do so will be prosecuted and held accountable for their illegal activities."

If convicted, HUGHES faces a maximum term of imprisonment for each count of mail fraud of not more than twenty years, followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.  HUGHES also faces a mandatory consecutive two-year sentence for the commission of aggravated identity theft.

U.S. Attorney Polite reiterated that the Indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation in investigating this matter.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.