Pierce County woman pleads guilty in scheme of identity theft fraud

Staff writerApril 11, 2014 

A Pierce County woman pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a scheme that netted her more than $95,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Barbara Stahlman, 42, faces at least two years in prison when she is sentenced July 11. Stahlman, who was indicted last February, remains in custody.

She filed 108 false tax returns between 2010 and 2013, 44 of which were accepted by the IRS.

Stahlman used Social Security numbers to file the fraudulent tax returns without the knowledge of people whose information she was using, according to the indictment.

Federal agencies said they are focusing more and more on stolen identity refund fraud. More than 880 people have been charged with those types of crimes in the last year and the IRS said it has resolved about 963,000 cases involving identity theft crimes.

“Identity theft is devastating for the victims as it steals the very essence of who we are,” said Kenneth Hines, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. “Protecting our tax system is important to us, but we are even more passionate about bringing to justice those crooks that violate innocent people by stealing their identities.”

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