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Man pleads guilty in scheme to steal female inmates’ identities

A Crown Point man took part in a national fraud ring that stole the identities of dozens of female inmates across the country to take in more than $500,000 from fake tax refund claims.

Elbert Johnson, 37, has agreed to plead guilty to one count each of fraud and fraud with identity documents, two counts of aiding and abetting fraud with identity documents and three counts of false claims, according to a plea agreement filed Thursday, the same day as his indictment.

According to court records, in 2009, Johnson stole the password to a legal research site that allowed him to access the Social Security numbers of his victims, most of whom were female inmates spread across the country.

Johnson and others then used this data, along with more information they got about their victims from the websites of the various Department of Corrections where the victims were all being held, to file fake federal and state tax returns.

Johnson did all this at local public libraries and at one Ivy Tech Community College campus, although it was unclear which one.

The plea agreement says the total loss was more than $500,000, although the indictment only lists $103,177 in loss from the conspiracy.

He also lied on his own tax return, claiming he made only $15,631 in 2010 and that he was single when he was actually married.

Johnson faces up to 15 years in prison. It was unclear as of Friday afternoon if any hearings have been scheduled for Johnson.



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