After being convicted by a jury in September, 2017, Harold Coley of Columbus, GA was sentenced in December, 2017 to 97 months in prison for conspiring to file fraudulent refund claims, mail fraud and embezzlement of mail.
Coley worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service to a route in Columbus. During his trial, evidence showed that Coley was recruited by co-conspirator Keisha Lanier to participate in the stolen identity tax refund scheme. While on his route, Coley would compile a list of addresses of vacant buildings or addresses that did not exist and turn over the information to Lanier. Lanier would then obtain stolen identities from a third co-conspirator, Tamika Floyd, who worked for the Alabama Department of Public Health. Most of these stolen identities belonged to 16-17 year olds.
Lanier would then file fraudulent tax returns directing the IRS to mail the refund checks to the false addresses provided by Coley. The IRS issued over 1,600 refund checks totaling more than $2.5 million.
In addition to jail time, Coley is ordered to serve three years supervised release and to pay $901,351 in restitution to the IRS.
Co-conspirators Lanier and Floyd were previously convicted and sentenced to prison in 2015.