Woman charged with fraud after health-department identity thefts

Woman charged with fraud after health-department identity thefts

A Clermont woman was arrested Tuesday on charges of filing $4 million in fraudulent income-tax returns using information that prosecutors say was provided by two Orange County health-department employees.

A federal indictment charging Tanya M. Fox, 38, with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft of government property and aggravated identity theft was unsealed Tuesday.

The government alleges that Fox, between January 2010 and June 2013, opened bank accounts in the name of false tax-preparation businesses and used other people to help withdraw fraudulently obtained tax-return money.

Fox used the Social Security numbers, dates of birth and names of patients at the health department to file the returns and obtain nearly $4.1 million, according to the indictment.

The Florida Department of Health notified about 2,000 patients in October that their personal information may have been compromised. That’s when two health-department employees, Shanterica Smith and Gerald Williams, and Williams’ brother Delray Duncan, were arrested.
In late 2011, the Internal Revenue Service found that about 3,000 tax returns had been filed between January 2011 and December 2012 using an address associated with Fox, court documents show. Of those, about 2,200 were listed in health-department records.

Williams and Smith admitted that they were paid to steal patients’ information.

Refunds of about $45,000 from five tax returns were deposited into Smith’s bank accounts, court records show.

Williams, Duncan and Smith were sentenced March 3 for identity theft. Williams received 4 1/2 years in federal prison. Duncan got 3 1/2 years. Smith was sentenced to five years.

The investigation started when the Orange County Sheriff’s Office was searching a house and found a handwritten list of about 150 names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

The Florida Department of Health has restricted access to patients’ Social Security numbers since the data breach, local spokesman Dain Weister said.

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