A group of inmates filed 35 false tax returns and cheated the Internal Revenue Service of $27,860 in refunds, a federal prosecutor says.
An indictment unsealed Tuesday charges 11 inmates at Bland Correctional Center and three women not in prison with conspiring to defraud the IRS.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said inmate James C. Blankenship masterminded the scheme.
Blankenship used identification numbers of former employers and Social Security numbers and names of other inmates to begin filing the false returns in 1993, the indictment says.
A post office box in the Bedford County community of Goodview was used as a mail drop, Sorenson said. The women would pick up the false returns, mail them to the government, then pick up the return checks.
Sorenson said the government stumbled upon the scheme when numerous tax refunds were mailed to the Goodview post office box.