Over two years imposed on Modesto woman who conspired with incarcerated son to submit 121 fraudulent stimulus check claims | USAO-NDCA

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SAN FRANCISCO — Sheila Denise Dunlap was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison for participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds announced. , Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Mark H. Pearson, and U.S. Department of the Treasury, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Special Agent in Charge Rod Ammari. United States District Judge Susan Illston handed down the sentence.

Dunlap, 52, of Modesto, pleaded guilty on March 4, 2022 to participating in a wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft by filing dozens of fraudulent Economic Impact Payment (EIP) claims, commonly known as stimulus checks. The EIP program was part of the Federal CARES Act enacted on March 27, 2020 to mitigate the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals. Under the EIP provision of the CARES Act, individuals who earned less than $99,000 on their 2019 tax returns and those whose income was low enough that a tax return is not required (non-filers ) were eligible to receive EIP funds. EIP payments were $1,200 per adult and $500 for an eligible child.

In her plea agreement, Dunlap admitted that she conspired from March 2020 to July 2020 with her son to obtain the personally identifiable information (PII) of others and use those PII to request EIP funds. In 2016, Dunlap’s son began serving a death sentence on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

Dunlap described in his plea agreement how his son, identified only by his initials DW, sent him the PII of his fellow inmates as well as the PII of other people they suspected of being considered non-filers of the statements. income from 2018 or 2019 and therefore were eligible for IAP funds. Dunlap admitted to using the PII to file several fraudulent requests for EIP funds through the Internal Revenue Service’s online EIP portal. In each of the requests, Dunlap listed its own Bank of America account to receive EIP payments.

Dunlap specifically admitted that on or about April 2020, his son arranged for the delivery of an email containing a spreadsheet with the PII of 9,043 people. She and her son agreed on a strategy to begin filing fraudulent EIP claims by first using the younger adults’ PII listed on the spreadsheet. According to Dunlap, she and her son believed that the young college-age people on the list likely lacked enough income to trigger their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. These people were therefore more likely to be non-filers and therefore to be eligible for EAP payments.

Using the PII of these real people – including their names and Social Security numbers and other personal details – Dunlap admitted that in May and June 2020, she electronically filed 121 fraudulent EIP claims. Each EIP request, regardless of the requester’s name, listed Dunlap’s bank account number for the stimulus check payment. In total, Dunlap filed claims for $145,200 in EIP payments.

In addition to the 27-month prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston imposed a three-year term of supervision after his release from prison and ordered Dunlap to pay full restitution. Dunlap remains out of custody and will surrender to begin his sentence on September 30.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christa Hall and Annie Hsieh, with assistance from Llessica Chan Fierro, Ralph Banchstubbs and Maribel Gallegos. The charge is the result of an investigation by IRS-CI and TIGTA.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and integrating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and by sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline via the NCDF’s online complaint form at address https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud /formulaire-de-plainte-en cas-de-catastrophe-ncdf.

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