An Acworth man was arraigned Thursday on charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and theft of government funds.
Bradford Thomas, 46, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 13. According to U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates and court documents, Thomas from January 2010 through May 2013 orchestrated a scheme to file more than 1,200 false tax returns using the names and Social Security numbers of various victims, many of whom were incarcerated in jails or prisons throughout the country.
A news release Thursday said the false tax returns claimed more $5.5 million in fraudulent tax refunds that were directed to be deposited into bank accounts controlled by Thomas or individuals working with him. The scheme caused an actual loss of over $1.6 million in taxpayer money.
“Identity thieves are becoming more devious, creative, and conniving,” said Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, in Thursday’s release. “They steal our identities, steal government money and prey upon innocent citizens. These criminals must be and will continue to be pursued in order to obtain justice for the victims as well as justice for our nation.”
In conjunction with the arrest of Thomas, two locations—a business named “Immaculate Autos” in Kennesaw, and his primary residence in Acworth—were searched by federal agents. Both are suspected to be places where electronic returns were submitted to the IRS.
Thomas’ indictment charges 10 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of aggravated identity theft, and eight counts of theft of government funds. Each wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and each theft of government funds count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. In addition, the aggravated identity theft charges carry at least one mandatory two-year consecutive sentence to any other sentence imposed. Each count also carries a fine of up to $250,000.
Federal officials are also seeking the forfeiture of all funds derived from or involved in this scheme.
The case continues to be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.