Polk man sentenced to 7 years for stealing IDs, filing phony tax returns

Polk man sentenced to 7 years for stealing IDs, filing phony tax returns

A 50-year-old Polk County man was recently sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in a roughly $400,000 tax-fraud scheme.

Norman V. Charlton of Lakeland must forfeit $14,952 that was seized from his residence on March 21, 2012, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara said last week in a Tampa courtroom.

The judge also entered a forfeiture judgment in the amount of $325,886, the “traceable proceeds of the fraud scheme,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

Charlton pleaded guilty March 7 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in connection with using stolen names and Social Security numbers to electronically file fraudulent tax returns.

Court documents say Charlton and co-conspirators used stolen identities, including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, to electronically file fraudulent tax returns and obtain fraudulent tax refunds from August 2011 through June 4, 2012.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and federal agents launched a tax-fraud investigation in 2012 that resulted in his arrest and the arrests of 24 others.

The Sheriff’s Office said some of his victims were nursing-home residents.

Charlton and co-conspirators kept detailed records of the crimes and used reloadable debit cards to spend the fraudulent refunds.

“The fraudulent refunds were deposited onto reloadable debit cards in the names of others, and/or were disbursed in the form of U.S. Treasury checks and mailed to addresses controlled or directed by Charlton and others,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“Charlton and his co-conspirators used and directed the fraudulent tax refunds to obtain cash and goods for their own benefit and the benefit of others.”

The detailed ledgers included names, email addresses, passwords, filing dates, times and amounts.

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