U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia
(404) 581-6000
March 11, 2015

Former SSA Employee and Others Sentenced in Fraudulent Income Tax Refund Scheme

ATLANTA—Shawn Brown, Maurice Pollock, Marcus Behling, Jonathan Stubbs, Nyron Nelson, Kelly Lonas, Ronald Bennett, Christopher Edwards and Sergey Krayev have been sentenced for their roles in a $5 million fraudulent income tax fraud scheme.

“Those who file false tax refund claims using stolen identities threaten the integrity of our federal income tax system and pose a real danger to the credit history and financial security of the individuals whose identities are stolen,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “Schemes where stolen identities are used to obtain false tax refunds are unfortunately become more common and we are dedicating increased resources to reverse this trend.”

“The sentencing of nine co-conspirators highlights how seriously IRS Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners take the issue of identity theft,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “We will continue to pursue criminals who prey on innocent victims and we will continue to enforce our nation’s tax laws. These sentencings should send a clear message to would-be criminals—you will be caught and you will be punished.”

“There is nothing more important to the Federal employee position than public trust. When that trust is violated it impacts the Federal work force and those they serve,” said Thomas Caul, Special Agent in Charge, of the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “I am grateful to the U.S. Attorneys for their continued efforts to prosecute those who violate that trust.”

J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “The FBI will remain a steadfast partner in the fight against the growing crime trend of stolen identity refund fraud. The sentencing of these individuals and the dismantling of their extensive criminal enterprise designed to defraud the U.S. Government represents the hard work of many dedicated law enforcement officers and agents from numerous agencies. Today’s sentencing should serve as a reminder to others that stolen identity refund fraud is a serious federal crime with serious consequences.”

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: From approximately January 2011 until March 2012, Brown led a criminal organization that engaged in a scheme to defraud the United States Department of the Treasury by filing fraudulent income tax returns using stolen identities. This is commonly called stolen identity refund fraud. Brown, Pollock, Behling, Stubbs, Nelson and Lonas used stolen personal identification information from over 1,000 victims, along with fake wage and withholding information, to prepare and electronically file fraudulent returns claiming over $5 million dollars in tax refunds. The Internal Revenue Service intercepted the majority of these fraudulent returns before refunds were issued. However, over $2 million in fraudulent refunds were sent to the defendants.

During the course of the scheme, Brown and Pollock recruited Bennett, then an employee of the United States Social Security Administration in Jacksonville, Florida, to improperly access a Social Security Administration computer database to steal identities. Brown also recruited Edwards, then an employee of an Alpharetta, Georgia based asset recovery company, to steal identities from a computer database he accessed through his employer. The stolen identities obtained by Bennett and Edwards were used to file fraudulent income tax returns.

Brown also recruited Sergey Krayev, a naturalized United States citizen from Moldova, to employ individuals in Russia to file fraudulent income tax returns. More than 70 fraudulent returns were filed from Russia and refunds associated with those returns were electronically deposited into bank accounts Brown controlled.

The defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, as described below:

Shawn Brown, 38, of Atlanta, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. On March 6, 2015, Brown was sentenced to 13 years, 4 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,230,021.

Maurice Pollock, 33, of Mableton, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. On March 6, 2015, Pollock was sentenced to serve five years, 10 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $888,697.

Marcus Behling, 31, of Powder Springs, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. On March 11, 2015, Behling was sentenced to serve three years, 3 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $698,249.66.

Jonathan Stubbs, 32, of Mableton, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. On March 6, 2015, Stubbs was sentenced to serve six years, 1 month in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $659,599.94.

Nyron Nelson, 40, of Roswell, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. On March 6, 2015, Nelson was sentenced to serve three years, 1 month in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $98,671.

Kelly Lonas, 40, of Roswell, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. On March 6, 2015, Lonas was sentenced to serve two years, 5 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $98,671.

Ronald Bennett, 30, of Hiram, Georgia, was convicted of computer fraud and aggravated identity theft. On March 6, 2015, Bennett was sentenced to serve two years, 3 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3000.

Christopher Edwards, 44, of Eutaw, Alabama, was convicted aggravated identity theft. On March 6, 2015, Edwards was sentenced to serve two years in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $9265.

Sergey Krayev, 40, of Johns Creek, Georgia, was convicted of misprision of a felony. On March 6, 2015, Krayev was sentenced to serve one year on probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,036.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and the Alpharetta Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Brown prosecuted the case.

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