Woman charged in scheme to steal military identities for tax refunds
By REBECCA BURYLO | The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser | Published: February 28, 2014
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The identities of military members at Fort Benning, Ga., were stolen as part of a multimillion-dollar tax return scheme, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tracy Mitchell of Phenix City, who was an employee at the Fort Benning hospital, has been charged with eight counts each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She had her initial court hearing Thursday, according to Todd Brown, the attorney prosecuting the case.
“She turned herself in once she found out there was an indictment issued against her,” Brown said. The indictment was issued earlier this month by a federal grand jury.
According to the indictment, Mitchell knowingly used the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of military personnel to file more than 1,000 false federal income tax returns that claimed more than $2.2 million in refunds.
According to Brown, Mitchell’s position at the hospital gave her access to the identification data of soldiers, including those currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When investigators searched her home, they found $329,242 stored inside a safe, Brown said.
George Beck, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, worked with Georgia’s Middle District to have the case prosecuted in Alabama.
“Identity theft is a horrible crime, but stealing identities from those who are serving our country is absolutely deplorable,” Beck said. “While the defendant is presumed innocent, my office will vigorously prosecute those who prey on our military.”
If convicted, Mitchell could face up to 20 years in prison for each count of fraud and two years for each count of identity theft.