A Beachwood woman was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for stealing the identities of more than a dozen people and filing false tax returns.
Aesha Johnson, 42, was convicted by a jury earlier this year on all 29 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She was also ordered to pay $63,708 in restitution.
Her daughter, Brittany Williams, previously pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy. She was sentenced to three years of supervised release and $63,708 in restitution
Williams and Johnson, when she was living in West Virginia, conspired together to use stolen identities to file false tax returns with the IRS, seeking tax refunds. Johnson acquired many of these identities through a previous criminal fraud scheme, according to the indictment.
Johnson and Williams used an address associated with the family on East 142nd Street in Cleveland as the address of record for many of the false tax returns. They often communicated with each other using a code that referred to the victims using numbers 1 through 31, and created and used fictitious email accounts in the names of the victims to communicate with the IRS, according to the indictment
Williams filed the false tax returns online, obtained prepaid debit cards in the names of the identity-theft victims and requested the IRS deposit the refunds onto those cards. Williams then withdraw cash or made purchases with the cards, according to the indictment.
“This pair stole people’s identities then used it to steal from taxpayers,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “The community is safer with Ms. Johnson behind bars.”
“This sentence is a small victory for the many American taxpayers who have been victims of stolen identity refund fraud schemes,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “The defendants demonstrated a blatant disregard for the integrity of the United States tax system and caused immeasurable hardship to innocent victims. IRS-CI will continue to do our part in protecting the sanctity and integrity of the tax system and those individuals whose identities were stolen.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Cronin and Justin Seabury Gould following an investigation by the IRS.