The Justice Department announced that a Georgia mail carrier has been convicted by a federal jury for his role in a stolen identity refund fraud conspiracy.
According to evidence presented at the trial, Harold Coley, 52, worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service 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. The stolen identities primarily belonged to 16 and 17 year-olds.
Lanier and others directed the IRS to mail the tax refund checks to the addresses Coley provided. In exchange for cash, Coley intercepted the fraudulently obtained refund checks and provided them to Lanier and others. In total, Coley’s co-conspirators directed over 1,600 refund checks claiming more than $2.5 million to addresses on his postal route. Lanier and Floyd were previously sentenced to 15 years and more than seven years in prison for their roles in the scheme.
Sentencing has been scheduled for December 19, and Coley faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud and 5 years in prison for each count of embezzlement of the mail. Coley also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and monetary penalties.