As a result of a joint investigation between the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Identity Theft Task Force and the Internal Revenue Service, 50-year-old Norman Charlton of Lakeland has been federally indicted (yesterday, October 29, 2013) for his role in a tax fraud conspiracy victimizing the federal government and multiple citizens, including nursing home patients. According to the indictment, Charlton is responsible for thefts in excess of $400,000. Charlton is the father of former Certified Nursing Assistant, Portia Charlton, who was arrested by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in May, 2013 for multiple counts of ID Theft. She is still in the Polk County jail held on those charges.
“We applaud this indictment from the United States Attorney’s Office. They have done an outstanding job working with our identity theft task force detectives and IRS investigators. There seems to be no end to these criminals who steal identities and file fraudulent tax returns. Since our initial ‘Stop the Drop’ investigation 2012, we continue to work with IRS investigators and local banks to investigate and arrest these thieves. We urge everyone to guard your personal identification closely—crooks are actively looking to steal your identity and then defraud the taxpayers.” --Grady Judd, Sheriff
The thirteen-count federal indictment charges Norman Charlton with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, theft of government property and aggravated identity theft. He is also charged with four counts of wire fraud, four counts of theft of government property, and four counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment is from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida (Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III).
Norman Charlton was taken into custody on September 29, 2013 in Hillsborough County. He was then transferred to the Pinellas County Jail, which is where he now resides.
The investigation of the Charltons by PCSO deputies and federal agents resulted from previous tax fraud investigations by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the IRS. The investigation of tax fraud, dubbed "Stop The Drop," was originally disclosed by the PCSO in May and August of 2012 and resulted in 25 arrests. In January 2013, a warrant for Norman Charlton’s arrest for tax fraud charges was issued. Since then, the PCSO and Internal Revenue Service have continued their investigation into the tax fraud conspiracy. Future arrests of other unnamed persons related to the Charlton tax fraud investigation are anticipated.
Links to previous PCSO news releases: http://www.polksheriff.org/NewsRoom/News%20Releases/Pages/05-08-2012.aspx
For information about the Federal indictment: Contact William Daniels, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida at 813-274-6388 or 813-274-6000.
Here is how tax fraud generally works:
• Illegally acquire/steal identities. A name, social security number, and date of birth are required. Some criminals specialize in stealing identities. As an example, those who work in a nursing home setting who have access to medical files, can steal and then use or sell these names to other thieves. Some tax fraud criminals simply buy identities from others.
• The thieves then file fraudulent tax returns, making up financial data that will result in a high tax return amount, often using tax credits in the IRS code. They often use electronic tax preparers so that they can get “refunds” quicker and easier.
• They then receive “tax refunds” from the IRS made out to the stolen identity in the one of the following ways: 1) federal check in the mail, 2) refunds direct deposited into their account or a bank account created to receive the refund, or 3) refunds placed on a pre-paid debit card or other pre-paid card service.
• The thieves then convert payments into purchases, cash, or money orders via financial institutions or retailers.
PCSO detectives are asking for the public’s help in preventing and identifying tax fraud:
- Report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement, Crime Stoppers (1-800-226-TIPS), to firstname.lastname@example.org, or online with the IRS http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/How-Do-You-Report-Suspected-Tax-Fraud-Activity%3F. Provide as much information as possible to include names, tag numbers, telephone numbers, social website screen names, car descriptions, where the information is coming from, are the suspects doing it electronically or by mail, where they bank, etc.
- Watch mailboxes at empty homes to see if suspects are having cards or checks sent there.
- Ask medical providers and other services about their privacy policies. In the past, suspects have acquired identities from nursing homes and medical offices and facilities, usually through employees.
- Nursing home, medical facility, and home healthcare workers should be aware of the scams and report those who they suspect are involved. Medical training schools and employers should educate their employees that law enforcement is proactively working tax fraud cases.
- Companies and agencies need to take a hard look at their privacy policies. Personal identification information should only be available to a limited number of people and in secure areas.