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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Spring Hill man pleads guilty in tax fraud case

Hernando Today staff report

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CAMDEN, N.J. - A Spring Hill man admitted Friday to using his position in a doctor's office to steal personal information, as part of his role in running a stolen identity refund fraud scheme.

Berness Swan, 44, formerly of Sicklerville, N.J., pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to the New Jersey District Attorney's Office.

He faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for the theft of government property charge, and a two-year maximum prison term for aggravated identity theft, the office said.

Swan caused numerous fraudulent tax returns to be filed, which sought thousands of dollars in tax refunds, resulting in about $120,000 in losses to the United States.

Stolen Identity Refund Fraud participants complete individual income tax return 1040 forms using fraudulently-obtained information, and falsify wages earned, taxes withheld, and other data.

They use data to make it appear that the "taxpayers" listed on the fraudulent 1040 form are entitled to tax refunds when the various tax withholdings have not been paid, and no refunds due.

Then they direct the Treasury Department to issue the refunds through checks to locations they control or can access.

Swan worked at the Phoenix Medical Group in Mount Laurel, N.J., from January 2009 until March 2012.

He had access to numerous individual's personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers, and dates of birth, according to the DA.

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