Atlanta- Creshika C. Wise, a former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Revenue Agent who impersonated a taxpayer in order to steal over $470,000, has pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated identity theft.
It is outrageous for an IRS employee to use her position to steal a citizen’s identity so she could steal taxpayer funds,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “Citizens count on the honesty and integrity of thousands of IRS employees every day to safeguard their private information, and breaches of this trust will be prosecuted and punished.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Creshika Wise worked for the IRS from 2008 until the spring of 2016, when she resigned after her arrest in this case. While with the IRS, she served as a revenue agent. In August 2013, Wise was assigned to audit the 2011 tax return of two married taxpayers who had significantly underpaid their 2011 federal income tax. In September 2013, Wise and the taxpayers’ accountant met, and agreed that the taxpayers owed $758,846, plus interest, to the IRS. Wise came up with a plan to steal most or all of that money.
The day after she met with the accountant, Wise placed in the IRS file for the audit a fictitious IRS Form 4549, “Income Tax Examination Changes” for the taxpayers. This form is used by revenue agents to document changes to tax liability arrived at through the audits they conduct. Wise falsified the form by dramatically understating the tax due to the IRS, reducing it from $758,846 to $282,363, and also by forging the accountant’s signature.
A few days later, Wise opened up a new checking account, in the name “Creshika C. Wise sole prop d/b/a U.S. Treasury and Accounting Service.” In October, 2013, Wise emailed the taxpayer from her official IRS email account, and asked him to wire the funds the taxpayers owed the IRS to her newly opened bank account. Wise’s email provided the routing and account number for the account, which she described as belonging to “U.S. Treasury and Accounting Services.” Wise’s email did not disclose to the taxpayer that she personally, rather than the IRS, was actually the owner of the account.
The taxpayer never wired the funds as requested by Wise, as he had already mailed a check to the IRS for the full amount due. Wise received the check, and processed it for credit to the taxpayers’ account. However, Wise did not abandon her scheme.
Wise knew she had altered the IRS’s records to reflect a tax due of $282,363, rather than the agreed upon $758,846. She also knew that when the IRS processed the check, the system would generate a refund check for any excess – here, over $470,000 – and mail it to the taxpayers’ address of record. Wise turned her attention to getting the large check she knew would be coming to the taxpayers, and preparing to negotiate it herself.
- On 10/21/2013, Wise opened a new UPS mailbox in her own name at a UPS Store location. Soon afterward, Wise caused the taxpayers’ address to be changed in the IRS computer system from their correct address to that of Wise’s newly opened UPS mailbox, causing IRS correspondence to the taxpayers to be misdirected.
- On 12/2/2013, impersonating the taxpayers, Wise filled out an online application for a new joint checking account in their names with a local bank. On 12/10/13, Wise faxed the signature card, which she had created by forging the signatures of the taxpayers and using the husband’s social security number, to the bank.
- On 12/20/2013, Wise called the bank to inquire whether the account was ready to be used. This call was recorded and preserved by the bank. In the call, Wise identified herself by name as one of the taxpayers, the wife, and provided the taxpayer’s correct social security number to confirm that identity. Posing as the taxpayer, Wise said that it was important the account be opened quickly, because she was expecting a large check from the IRS.
Sentencing for Creshika C. Wise, 31, of Fairburn, Georgia, is scheduled for August 3, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg.