Local News

VA worker convicted of stealing vets' identities

Posted February 9, 2011

— A federal court jury on Tuesday found a Department of Veterans Affairs worker guilty of stealing personal information from disabled North Carolina veterans to generate bogus tax returns.

Michael Ray Woods, 47, of Fayetteville, was convicted on 12 counts of preparing false tax returns, 10 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of identity theft and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

Working out of his home, Woods transferred patient data from VA hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia to a computer in Richmond, Va., prosecutors said.

At the same time, Woods ran a tax return preparation business out of his home, and he often submitted phony returns for customers in exchange for fees, prosecutors said. Evidence presented at trial showed that his business grew by word of mouth, and by 2007, he was filing more than 800 returns annually and pocketing $150,000 in fees.

Woods used the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of VA patients to create fake dependents on people's returns so they could qualify for larger sums under the Earned Income Tax Credit, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said choosing disabled veterans improved Woods' odds that the identity theft would go undetected because they were less likely to have taxable income and use their own identities to file tax returns.

U.S. Attorney George Holding called Woods' actions "a shocking abuse of trust."

Woods was immediately taken into federal custody. He will be sentenced in May, when he faces up to 390 years in prison.


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  • Vietnam Vet Feb 10, 2011

    This is what happens when there aren't enough people to actually check returns at the IRS. Wouldn't it seem funny that people were claiming dependent children of military service age? That is if someone were to actually look into it? More fuel for the idea of a flat tax for ALL taxpayers. 10 or 15% across the board for everybody that earns an income in this country...and I mean everybody. Then this kind of fraud could not happen...

  • ronnyg0447 Feb 10, 2011

    Chain gang? He needs to be beaten with those chains.

  • chevybelair57sd Feb 10, 2011

    Wow, it's bad enough the abuses the government heaps on us vets, now we have to endure their employees abuses. Makes you really want to serve your country!!

  • Bob3425 Feb 10, 2011

    I hope he get the max, whatever happen to chain gangs this guy deserve to be on one.

  • jones22 Feb 9, 2011

    He'll likely get probation and a few hours of community service.