Inmates targeted in $39K false tax return scheme - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Two plead guilty in $39K false tax return scheme

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Two people have entered guilty pleas in a case that involved filing false federal income tax returns using identity information stolen from inmates at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

S'ade Tyler of Jackson pled guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and wire fraud.

Nikki Thomas, also of Jackson, pled guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft.

Four other people, Marietta Harris, Ladonna Cooper, Tony Jones and Shekeila Jones also face charges in the case.

Nearly $40,000 was deposited into bank accounts the six allegedly controlled in January 2009.

Cooper was at one time employed at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County and had access to the Social Security Numbers and dates of birth of current and former inmates and visitors to the prison, according to the indictment.

This isn't the first time an employee at the prison has been arrested for this crime. Several years ago, Janice Singleton was sentenced to 52 months in prison for using inmates' records to file false tax returns.

Certified Public Accountant Joseph Hines in Jackson said this is a crime than can affect victims long term.

"You need to be extremely careful when using your Social Security Number. Don't give it out to just anyone," Hines said.

In this case prison inmates don't have a choice, but others should be cautious when it comes to offering your personal information.

Thomas faces a total maximum penalty of 12 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and will be sentenced August 8.

Tyler faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and will be sentenced August 15.

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