PHOENIX – A former Phoenix tax preparer was sentenced Tuesday to 36 months in prison for her role in an identity theft and money laundering scheme uncovered during a probe spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Paula Anthony, 65, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes. She was indicted by a grand jury in January 2016 on one count of conspiracy to defraud, five counts of mail fraud, five counts of identity theft, and a second conspiracy charge involving money laundering. Anthony was convicted following a trial.
Evidence presented during the trial indicated Anthony was a key participant in the scheme in which conspirators stole dozens of taxpayers’ identities and filed falsified income tax returns to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax refunds in the victims’ names. Anthony and the others obtained the fraudulent refunds through online accounts set up with prepaid debit cards and utilized multiple bank accounts to convert the refund money into cash. Once Anthony obtained the cash, she or the people she recruited, laundered the money outside the United States by wiring most of the funds to Nigeria.
HSI received considerable assistance with the investigation from Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The case against was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Monica Edelstein and William Voit of the U.S. District of Arizona.