A Plant City woman will be spending years in federal prison for her role in stealing identities and filing fraudulent tax returns, netting her $187,000 in refunds.
Jennifer Meier Hunt was sentenced today to two years and six months by U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew. As part of the sentence, the court also ordered her to return $97,238, the proceeds of the tax fraud, according to a release from U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III.
Hunt pleaded guilty to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft on June 25.
According to court documents, in April 2011 a confidential informant told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that employees of the Kforce human resources department were filing fraudulent income tax returns using TurboTax.com.
According to Hunt’s plea agreement, an informant alerted the FBI in April 2011 that Kforce human resources employees, including Hunt, were accessing a company database and stealing identifying information for use in tax refund fraud.
Three suspects were then identified by agents, Kforce supervisors and Turbo Tax. On May 19, 2011, federal search warrants were executed at the suspects’ homes, according to the release.
The investigation found that between Feb. 2, 2011, and May 2, 2011, Hunt used stolen identities to electronically file 75 fraudulent federal income tax returns to get refunds worth about $187,687, the release said. Although some of the returns were rejected by the Internal Revenue Service, 47 of the fraudulent returns were accepted, resulting in the issuance of $97,238 in tax refunds to debit cards under the control of Hunt.
None of the victims of the fraudulent returns, which included several deceased individuals, had authorized Hunt to file a return on their behalf or open or use a debit card in their name, the release said.
In May, Kforce officials said the employees involved were terminated and the company notified everyone who was known to have been affected by the theft of the information.