MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Six people from Memphis have been indicted for identity theft and tax fraud as part of a massive national crack down.
37-year-old Aundria Bryant-Branch, 30-year-old Nelise Wilson, 31-year-old Tara Albright, 34-year-old Antonio Stevens, 29-year-old Duane C. Ward, and 27-year-old Takiya Brown were all charged in the indictment with conspiracy to defraud the United Stated government by filing fraudulent tax returns. Bryant-Branch, Wilson, Stevens, and Ward were also charged with money laundering conspiracy. Additionally, Bryant-Branch was charged with ten counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of identity theft.
According to the indictment, Bryant-Branch orchestrated the scheme, which ran from 2006 to 2008. Bryant-Branch stole identities from people with outstanding arrest warrants, obtaining the information from a Memphis Police Department warrant book. She gave the names to Brown and Albright, who filed false tax returns with the IRS and claimed their refunds. Wilson, Ward and Stevens opened up bank accounts under the fake business names of Chelsea Street Grocery and A&T Grocery, where the refunds were deposited. In all, over $444,000 in tax refunds were obtained illegally.
Nationwide, the identity theft sweep targeted 105 people in 23 states, which resulted in 939 criminal charges among 69 indictments.