Delivering More than the Mail


A U.S. postal worker in Columbus, Georgia was recently convicted by a federal jury for his part in a stolen identity tax refund conspiracy. (The fraudster worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), but moonlighted as an identity refund fraudster.) While on his postal route, the man would gather addresses related to streets he was walking, often fabricating addresses or noting vacant buildings that could be used as part of the tax refund fraud scheme.

The former postal worker’s accomplices would use previously procured stolen identities and the address information provided to file fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Most of the stolen identities belonged to teenagers around the ages of 16 to 17. (He ruined the credit of countless children by compromising their identities before they even had the chance to become adults.)

The IRS then mailed tax refund checks to addresses provided by the postal worker, who was compensated for intercepting and collecting the refunds. (He and his co-conspirators received approximately 1,600 refund checks totaling more than $2.5 million using this method.)

 At sentencing, the former postal worker faced a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for a conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud and five years in prison for each count of embezzlement of the mail. He was ultimately ordered to serve eight years and one month behind bars to be followed by three years of supervised release. He must also pay $901,351 in restitution to the IRS.

One of the postal worker’s co-conspirators received a 15 year prison sentence for masterminding the scheme and for recruiting the postal worker to carry out the stolen identity tax refund ruse. Another co-conspirator, who was a public servant employed by the Alabama Department of Public Health, was sentenced to more than seven years behind bars for obtaining many of the stolen identities used. (Congratulations to the IRS, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia for persevering through more than rain, sleet and hail to stop these fraudsters from delivering fraud.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Columbus USPS worker convicted in stolen identity tax refund scheme,” published by WRBL CBS News Channel 3 on September 12, 2017.

A federal jury in Columbus returned a guilty verdict against a U.S. postal worker for his role in a stolen identity refund fraud conspiracy. According to evidence presented at trial 52-year-old Harold Coley worked as a mail carrier for the USPS and his postal route was in Columbus, Georgia. In 2012, Coley was recruited by Keshia Lanier to participate in stolen identity tax refund conspiracy. Coley collected addresses on his route, including many that did not exist or related to vacant buildings, and provided them to Lanier and others for the purpose of filing fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Lanier obtained many of the stolen identities from Tamika Floyd who worked for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.