Identity Theft

Alabama State Employee Sentenced for Defrauding IRS, 100 Co-Workers

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An Alabama woman was sentenced to prison last week for identity theft she committed while working for the state, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

Chequlia Motley of Montgomery, Ala., pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft in May and was sentenced Aug. 13 to serve 36 months in prison.

Motley is a former state employee who, according to her plea agreement, stole and sold the identities of more than 100 state workers and their family members. She acquired the information from databases maintained by the Alabama State Employee’s Insurance Board, where she worked.

People steal from their employers all the time, said Victor Searcy, director of fraud operations at Identity Theft 911.

“The thing you always hear from the employer is, How can they do this? We trusted them,” Searcy said, speaking generally about employee theft. “They start trusting people rather than having set security standards and audits.”

The Employee Identity Theft Tale

Motley sold the information to Veronica Temple, Yolanda Moses and Barbara Murry, who filed false tax returns with the stolen information, fraudulently requesting tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. Motley’s co-conspirators were convicted, and each was sentenced in February to 57 months in prison.

Motley was also ordered to pay $179,946 in restitution to the IRS.

“As a business, you have to make sure you have really good security standards that are set and in place, a policy that’s written and displayed to employees, that you’re emphasizing on a regular basis,” Searcy recommended.

Enforcement is the key, Searcy said.

“If employees know that you’re looking at them, there’s a good chance you’re going to cut down on those motivations (to steal),” he said.

As for the other victims of the scam in Alabama — state employees and their family members — the best thing to do is to monitor your personal credit for suspicious activity. You can do that for free using the Credit Report Card.

Image: iStockphoto

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