The 24-year-olds, Emilee Fenton and Dalton Brewer of Gilmer, were charged with several felonies in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Fenton and Brewer were both indicted for conspiracy to unlawfully transfer, possess, and use a means of identification. Fenton faces additional charges for theft of government money and aggravated identity theft.
Fenton is accused of conspiring with Brewer to steal the identities of three people, known in court documents only by their initials.
The U.S. Department of Justice says the couple used those identities to acquire $3,600 in stimulus checks, known officially as “economic impact payments.”
Special Agent in Charge Marcus Henderson of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation’s Dallas Field Office highlighted that some offenders view taxpayer-funded programs as especially vulnerable.
“[Internal Revenue Service] Criminal Investigation continues to pursue identity thieves who view the American taxpayer as an easy target,” Henderson said in a Justice Department press release.
“Today’s indictments highlight our commitment to protecting the very people the Economic Impact Payments were intended to benefit during this global crisis.”
Stephen Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, warned that stimulus checks are susceptible to fraud by identity thieves.
“Fraudsters engaged in identity theft to steal taxpayer refunds have now turned their attention to stealing Economic Impact Payments,” Cox said in the press release. “We are committed to fighting fraud and criminal activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic[.]”
The federal government spent about $300 billion on stimulus payments as part of its response to the economic crisis caused by lockdown measures.
Photo: Michael Barera / Creative Commons
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.