by Stone Mountain-Redan Patch Staff
A local woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple charges including aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Cora Cadia Ford, 54, of Stone Mountain, also has been indicted on charges of mail fraud and filing false claims, a news release about the indictment states.
Ford was arraigned by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill on today (Wednesday, Sept.12) and released on bond. There were no specifics in the news release about where in Stone Mountain Ford is from.
“This defendant is accused of stealing the identities of some of our community’s most vulnerable – individuals with physical or mental disabilities, and the homeless. We will make every effort to bring to justice those who seek to prey on the disadvantaged," U.S. Attorney of the North District of Georgia, Sally Quillian Yates, said in the release.
The release states that from about January 2007 to May 2011 Ford allegedly targeted certain people who she knew or believed were mentally handicapped, physically disabled, or homeless for the purposes of getting and using their names and Social Security numbers to file fraudulent federal tax returns seeking false refunds, according to Yates, the charges and other information presented in court.
The release states that Ford in some cases allegedly falsely represented to these people that she would use their personal identifying information to provide them with homeless benefits or get money from a government program for the disabled. Ford allegedly used the personal identifying information to obtain false tax refunds for her own personal benefit, according to the release.
The U.S. Attorney's office says each mail fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and each false claim count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charges carry at least one mandatory two-year consecutive sentence to any other sentence imposed, the office said.
In addition, each count carries a fine of up to $250,000.
The court will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines in determining the actual sentence, the release states. The non-binding guidelines provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders, according to the release.
“Identity thieves have figured out that if they obtain Social Security numbers, they can file false returns with us. Identifying, investigating and vigorously prosecuting those individuals involved in these tax related identity theft schemes remains a top priority for IRS Criminal Investigation,” acting Special Agent in Charge, Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot stated in the news release.
U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division Trial Attorney Thomas J. Krepp and Assistant United States Attorney Steven D. Grimberg are prosecuting the case, which is being investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service.
If anyone has additional information or believes he or she may be a victim of this scheme, please call the Internal Revenue Service at 404-338-7533.
The U.S. Attorney's office reminds the public that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.