The Postal Inspection Service has helped dismantle a tax fraud ring that allegedly bilked the federal government out of $22 million.
Federal prosecutors charged 34 people in the scheme last month. According to prosecutors, the defendants stole personal information from Michigan hospital patients, prison inmates and others and used the data to file fraudulent tax returns.
Grand Rapids, MI, Postal Inspector Mark Dayhuff led the investigation, which concluded the gang filed more than 4,600 bogus returns during a seven-year period. The Inspection Service became involved when local authorities found stolen mail and other documents in an abandoned Battle Creek, MI, residence.
“[The gang] kept good notes,” said Dayhuff. “[The notes] and documents we reviewed contributed significantly to the case.”
Employees from a local veterans’ hospital and at least three inmates at a Michigan prison are among the defendants charged with stealing personal information and providing it to Derrick Gibson, the alleged ringleader.
Gibson often paid for the information with illegal drugs, prosecutors say.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The Inspection Service worked with several state and federal agencies on the case.