Massena woman pleads to identity theft, mail fraud, defrauding IRS of over …

SYRACUSE — A Massena woman today pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in a case involving false federal income tax returns.

Lacey Jane Hollinger, 27, admitted theft of over $200,000 from the Internal Revenue Service, according to U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian.

When sentenced on Feb. 6, she faces up to 20 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines for the mail fraud count. For the identity theft count, she faces a mandatory minimum two-year sentence, with a maximum prison term of 20 years, with any incarceration followed by three years’ post-release supervision.

Hollinger admitted that in 2011 and 2012 she contacted Massena area residents via Facebook and other electronic media to tell them they were eligible for a tax refund even though they were unemployed and had no income as part of a U.S. Government “stimulus program.” No such program existed, a statement from Hartunian said.

Several dozen responded, giving Hollinger their personal identification information (date of birth, social security number, etc.). Hollinger forwarded this information to others who used it to create false and fraudulent tax returns that generated over $200,000.00 in tax refunds, Hartunian said.

Hollinger, and others involved in the fraudulent scheme, stole these funds after they were electronically deposited in bank accounts they controlled in Arizona, Hartunian said.

The Massena area residents never saw the tax returns, which falsely represented that they were self-employed and entitled to a refund, Hartunian said.

Some did get pre-paid debit cards that Hollinger and others caused them to receive in the mail. Many got nothing, with Hollinger and the other fraudsters keeping most of the refund money, Hartunian said.


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