Inmate’s pen-pal tax fraud earns a return trip to prison

The inmate’s pen-pal scheme was clever, and it netted her more than $56,000 in tax refunds that didn’t belong to her.

For that, Tacoma resident Shannon Henderson, 45, is an inmate again. She was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to 30 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to federal prosecutors, Henderson hatched her plan between 2007 and 2009 while she was an inmate at the Washington Women’s Correctional Center in Purdy.

While incarcerated, Henderson befriended other inmates across the country by correspondence, scooping up names and addresses of their friends and family members.

In 2013 and 2014, she filed more than 150 fraudulent tax returns, seeking $170,000 in refunds. The money went to her own family and friends.

With the aid of a co-conspirator, she also snagged personal information of employees of a janitorial service, extending the phony tax-return scheme.

In addition to her prison sentence, Henderson was ordered to pay more than $56,000 in restitution.