Crime & Courts
Tampa work agency employee stole workers’ identities, feds say
TAMPA - An employee at a Tampa-based staffing agency stole fellow workers’ identity information for use in tax refund fraud, according to court pleadings. Jennifer Meier Hunt, who worked at Kforce, has agreed to plead guilty to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft for trying to steal more than $187,000 from the federal government using identifying information of her co-workers, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court. Called stolen identity tax refund fraud, the fraud involves the use of stolen names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth to file bogus tax returns to trick the government into sending fraudulent refunds to the thieves. According to Hunt’s plea agreement, an informant alerted the FBI in April 2011 that two Kforce human resources employees, including Hunt, were accessing a company database and stealing identifying information for use in tax refund fraud.FBI agents met with Kforce executives in Tampa and learned the company was conducting an investigation into whether any of its help desk employees were committing identity theft for tax fraud. The company identified Hunt as one of the employees and gave the information to the FBI. The FBI investigation determined Hunt had used the identities to file 75 fraudulent income tax returns between Feb. 2 and May 2, 2011. Of those, the IRS accepted 47 of the filings, sending about $97,000 in fraudulent refunds to Hunt. Kforce officials said the incident happened two years ago, the employees involved were terminated and the company notified everyone who was known to have been affected by the theft of the information. According to its website, Kforce provides staffing for companies in the areas of technology, finance and accounting as well as health information management. The firm says it is backed by more than 2,600 associates and approximately 10,300 consultants on assignment, and has 64 offices throughout the United States and one in the Philippines.