Many people in the United States celebrate Memorial Day to honor those who have lost their lives in order to serve their country. However, some Georgia individuals have been accused of taking advantage of the time that some military members spend overseas in order to commit tax fraud. Those alleged to have facilitated the fraud were arrested and are currently facing criminal charges.
So far, nine people have been indicted for filing fraudulent tax returns. One of those charged is a former employee of the hospital at Fort Benning while two others worked at a calling center for a credit card company. Some of the identities were stolen from the calling center while others were stolen from military members who had reported for medical exams before they had to deploy overseas, mostly to the Middle East.
Those involved filed roughly 7,000 fraudulent tax returns between the years of 2011 and 2013. The fraud tended to focus on individuals who would have to file a late tax return, which included military members and those in prison. Authorities say that over $20 million was wrongly issued, and the Fort Benning hospital employee had thousands of dollars in cash stashed in a safe at her home.
Although the investigation is ongoing, the nine arrested so far — some of whom are in Georgia — have been charged with conspiracy as well as identity theft and fraud. If convicted, they face the possibility of spending decades in prison. Although criminal charges involving military members tend to cause emotions to run high in many people, it is imperative that those accused be assumed innocent and their rights protected unless a prosecutor is able to definitively prove otherwise. As a court date approaches, it is likely that the defendants and their counsel are carefully reviewing the charges and determining how best to approach them in order to obtain the most favorable outcome possible.
Source: The Augusta Chronicle, “Soldiers’ IDs stolen, feds say”, , May 22, 2014