HARRISBURG, Pa. – Three people conspired to steal personal information from prison inmates and used it to claim more than $70,000 worth of illegal tax refunds from the state of Pennsylvania, prosecutors said Thursday.
Pennsylvania's attorney general's office announced charges that included conspiracy, money laundering and identity theft against Qadir Abdul Shabazz, 36, and Leslie Julian Shabazz, 30, a married couple from East Point, Ga.; and Dion Lee McBride, 36, of Pittsburgh.
Court records did not show whether the three were represented by lawyers.
Authorities said they appropriated personal information regarding 185 inmates in Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
"This was an intricate scheme that allegedly used stolen personal information, fabricated employment histories, bogus addresses and numerous debit card accounts and bank accounts to steal money from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania," Attorney General Linda Kelly said.
She said they used tax preparation software to create fraudulent tax returns, and had the money sent to locations in the Pittsburgh area.
Prosecutors said Georgia records indicate Leslie Shabazz runs Indigent Inmate Inc., an Atlanta-based group for inmates in financial need.
Last month, investigators searched apartments in East Point and recovered a file cabinet with information about prison inmates in 50 states, Kelly said.
The Shabazzes face extradition hearings in late May and early June in Fulton County, Ga.