Fla. man defrauds state of $2.7 million

Sept. 14, 2010 at 11:32 AM
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ORANGE PARK, Fla., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A Florida man allegedly got $2.7 million from two state agencies through a fraudulent income tax refund conspiracy, a federal agent testified.

The agent said Bryan A. Copeland, 31, of Orange Park, and six co-conspirators filed phony tax returns between 2006 and 2009 using counterfeit W-2 forms, the Jacksonville (Fla.) Times-Union reported Tuesday.

Names and other identifications stolen from people who had regular contact with the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Florida Department of Children and Families were used, with refunds either deposited in bank accounts Copeland controlled or mailed to Jacksonville addresses, the Times-Union said.

"For the people we serve, it's very important that their privacy and confidentiality be protected. We are very concerned about these allegations, and we are certainly going to review it, DCF spokesman John Harrell said, adding the agency hadn't been aware of any security breach.

Copeland has not yet been charged in the tax fraud incident. He is awaiting trial next month for felony fleeing from U.S. Secret Service agents when he tried to dump evidence off a bridge related to the alleged fraud conspiracy while on probation for a robbery. He was released on $15,000 bond, the newspaper said.

Agents said 225 bogus refund checks totaling approximately $239,000 were sent to one address, Refunds amounting to $2.4 million were wired directly to bank accounts in the names of six people who said they opened the accounts at Bryan Copeland's direction and were paid for withdrawals.

The Secret Service hasn't located the rest of the money, Special Agent Anthony Preissig said.

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