GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A massive tax scam is landing more people in federal prison — bringing the total to 33.
The scam involved stealing the personal information of Michigan veterans and inmates to scam the Internal Revenue Service out of more than $22 million.
It’s another reminder of how vulnerable our personal financial information is to those looking to commit crimes. And a warning that those who steal that information will face harsh penalties.
“In terms of defendants, this is the largest tax fraud case we’ve had in this district in most people’s memory, maybe ever,” former U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles said last year.
The feds say the gang stole personal information from patients and employees of the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center and from inmates of the Michigan Department of Corrections to file the false tax returns between 2008 and 2015.
Most filed fake tax returns and then opened bogus bank accounts in an attempt to get at the money.
Over the last 15 months, the dominoes have fallen with one after the other taking the fall including the ring leader,
of Battle Creek.
He was sentenced 10 years in prison after which time he will be on the hook for $16 million in restitution to the government.
The former employee of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center — Alvin Stephenson II — was sent to prison for 12 months and ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution.
This week the last three of Gibson’s stooges were ordered to make restitution of between $41,000 and $85,000. These are debts that never go away until they are paid even if the convicts go bankrupt.
“It’s obviously an outrage and it’s something that needs to be vindicated,” Miles said.
The convictions were the result of years of investigation by federal, state and local agencies and law enforcement including the IRS, the U.S. Postal Inspector, the ATF and the Battle Creek Police department.