Nakeisha Hall’s job was to help taxpayers. Hall, the daughter of a long-time IRS employee, started working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2000. In 2007, she began work at the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) office in Birmingham, Alabama and subsequently worked in TAS offices in Nebraska, Louisiana, and Utah. At TAS, Hall was responsible for helping taxpayers who were having difficulties with the IRS, including victims of identity theft.
As it turns out, Hall wasn’t doing her job. Instead, she was using her job to steal from taxpayers.
According to the indictment filed against Hall in 2015, Hall obtained the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of thousands of taxpayers through unauthorized access to IRS computers. According to her plea agreement, Hall had previously acknowledged that she understood the limitations on her rights to access information on the IRS computers and “received frequent warnings on her computer screen regarding her limitations.”
Nonetheless, Hall used the information she illegally accessed to prepare and file fraudulent income tax returns, seeking bogus refunds. To further the scheme, Hall and her co-conspirators also created bogus tax documents, including fake forms W-2. Typically, Hall created fake forms W-2 stating that various taxpayers had worked at the local Walmart and had wages withheld (the taxpayers did not work at the Walmart). The bogus tax returns sought a refund of the nonexistent withholding.
The refunds, once processed, were loaded onto debit cards which were mailed to drop addresses that Hall controlled; two of her co-conspirators, Jimmie Goodman and Abdullah Coleman, helped collect the refund cards from the mail. Hall then activated the debit cards by using stolen identity information, and together with her co-conspirators, collected the money from the debit cards at ATMs or used the cards for purchases.
Sometimes the bogus refunds were paid out using U.S. Treasury checks; in those instances, Hall and her co-conspirators forged taxpayer signatures to cash the checks.
Hall tried to steal more than $1 million but managed to snare only $400,000. She gave Goodman, Coleman, and other co-conspirators a chunk of the bogus refunds in exchange for their help. Sometimes, she paid them using the bogus debit cards, which they used at gas stations and stores in the region.
Hall faced a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the conspiracy charge; 10 years in prison for the theft of government funds; 2 years for aggravated identity theft; and up to 5 years for unauthorized access to a protected computer, as well as a $250,000 penalty. The disgraced IRS employee managed to wrangle a lesser sentence by pleading guilty in February to theft of government funds, aggravated identity theft, unauthorized access to a protected computer and conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. She was sentenced to nine years and two months in prison on the charges, ordered to pay $438,187 in restitution to the IRS, and must forfeit the same amount to the U.S. government as proceeds of criminal activity.
Three of Hall’s co-conspirators also pleaded guilty to an assortment of charges.
Goodman, who had a prior identity-theft conviction, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud and was sentenced in July to three years and five months in prison, ordered to pay $82,802 in restitution to the IRS and ordered to forfeit that amount to the government. Coleman, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud, is scheduled for sentencing on September 14, 2014.
A third co-conspirator, Lashon Roberson, 36, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Roberson was sentenced in July of this year to three years in prison and ordered to pay $119,185 in restitution to the IRS.
At least one other co-conspirator was involved, but not named (referred to in the indictment as “Person A”), at sentencing.
According to court documents, Hall initiated the scheme, ultimately resulting in hundreds of victims.
Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) investigated the case. “Hall is guilty of the insidious crime of victimizing those she was paid to serve,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “This unforgivable abuse of trust is something that the IRS takes quite seriously. Today’s sentence speaks to the severity of this crime and the importance the IRS places on protecting the integrity of our tax system.”

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Kelly Phillips Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer, and podcaster.

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