TAMPA — Ynessa Brown and Thelonius Robertson, of Gibsonton in Hillsborough County, have been sentenced to 61 months in federal prison for a fraud scheme that includes stealing the identities of dead people.
Brown and Robertson were sentenced for conspiring to commit tax fraud and aggravated identity theft, a statement says. The couple was ordered to pay $673,398 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court documents, from January 2012 to June 2013, Brown and Robertson possessed and used stolen identities, including some from dead people, to electronically file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS through an internet service provider in Brown's name. They then directed the refunds from those false filings to debit cards, many in other people's names, the statement says. The cards were either sent directly to Brown and Robertson or to their friends, family and vacant addresses.
Brown and Robertson spent the refunds at various retail locations and also obtained cash via ATM withdrawals, the statement says. Items related to the returns, including $94,000 in cash, were seized from Brown's house in June 2013.
In addition to the jail time and restitution money, authorities also seek $767,398 to recover funds lost in the charged criminal conduct.