2 Arizonans charged in federal income tax refund scheme - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

2 Arizonans charged in federal income tax refund scheme

NEW HAVEN, CT (CBS5) -

A federal grand jury in Connecticut has returned an 18-count indictment against two Arizona residents and a Connecticut man charging them with operating a fraudulent federal income tax refund scheme.

Kenya Malcom, 34, and Charles Ross, 40, both of Surprise, and Bernard Brantley, 43, of Waterbury, CT, were charged with various conspiracy, fraud, theft and identity theft offenses Thursday in New Haven, CT.

The indictment alleges that between November 2012 and May 2013, Malcolm, Brantley, Ross and others conspired to file false federal income tax returns in the names of individuals without the individuals' knowledge, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut.

As part of the scheme, Brantley, Ross and others advertised to victims that they were eligible for "Obama stimulus money" or "government funding" through a prepaid debit card, and then obtained personal identification information from the victims, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Malcolm, who operated a business in Arizona called Biggest Tax Refund, Inc., in Surprise, used the victims' names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers to prepare and file false federal income tax returns, the attorney's office claimed.

Malcolm then directed tax refunds totaling more than $2.5 million to be deposited partially into bank accounts controlled by Malcolm, her family members, her employees, and Ross, and partially into bank accounts linked to prepaid debit cards that were sent to the victims, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The indictment charges Malcolm, Brantley and Ross with one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum prison term of five years, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The indictment also charges each defendant with six counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud, which carry a maximum prison term of 30 years on each count, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The defendants are also charged with theft of public money, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. Finally, Malcolm and Brantley are each charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, an offense that carries a mandatory consecutive two-year prison term, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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