Teona Rodgers, 28, of Tampa, was sentenced to 75 months in prison after being convicted after a jury trial on May 3 of theft of government funds, possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices, use of unauthorized access devices, aggravated identity theft, and false claims.
Rodgers was sentenced and ordered to pay USD151,577 in restitution. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
While on a track and field scholarship at Florida State University, Teona Rodgers participated in a scheme to file fraudulent income tax returns during the 2011 and 2012 tax years by using other people’s personal information. The scheme was discovered in November 2013, when two notebooks and 12 debit cards in other people’s names were discovered in the Tallahassee apartment Rodgers had recently vacated.
The notebooks contained handwritten names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, tax refund amounts, account numbers, and other personal data of more than 150 individuals. The notebooks also included notations such as “rejected” and “filed,” and detailed instructions on how to file a return reporting $47,196 of interest income. This amount was used on multiple tax returns in this scheme (including Rodgers’s own 2011 and 2012 returns). Investigators determined that the returns had been filed from IP addresses linked to Rodgers and that the false returns had funded the debit cards. Rodgers used these debit cards to make purchases. In total, the information contained in the notebooks was used to file 64 fraudulent tax returns, seeking $465,948 in refunds.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Emerald Coast Financial Crimes Task Force, comprised of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the United States Secret Service and the Tallahassee Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Gary Milligan prosecuted the case.