Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Four more jailed in tax return scheme

TAMPA — Police made four more arrests in the widespread tax return scheme that could be costing the federal government billions annually.

The scheme works this way: A suspect takes someone's identity, files a tax return online, receives a refund on a prepaid Green Dot debit card and spends the ill-gotten gains. All four of those arrested Wednesday were carrying or using Green Dot debit cards that had other people's names, police said.

Briana Latisha Keaton, 22, of Tampa used a card to pay off a 50-inch flat screen TV and a washer and dryer, police said. The card was in the name of a 92-year-old Alzheimer's patient in a nursing home.

Wilma Lee Gallagher, 70, of Tampa tried to cash a Green Dot check using fraudulent power of attorney, according to police reports.

Police discovered a Green Dot card with multiple U.S. Treasury deposits on it when they pulled over Endrica Michell Simpson, 37, of Tampa.

Travis Rennard Johnson, 23, of Tampa used a Green Dot card in the name of an 82-year-old Illinois woman to buy jewelry at University Mall, police said.

The scheme, called "drop" because the government drops the money onto the cards, was discovered by police during traffic stops in which people had numerous prepaid debit cards containing the names of others.

Tampa police made dozens of arrests in a September sweep they called Operation Rainmaker.

The yearlong effort by local and federal law enforcement was able to intercept $100 million and recover $5 million in cash, jewelry, cars, entertainment systems and fraudulent refunds.

Warrants were also issued for four other people, who have been charged with similar crimes.

Four more jailed in tax return scheme 12/14/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 11:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.