Tax Fraud Suspect Arrested
UC Irvine Police detectives, working alongside Dallas County district attorney investigators and Fort Worth, Texas police officers, arrested Michael Tyrone Thomas, 27, who is suspected of involvement in the March tax fraud attacks on UCI graduate and medical students.
Thomas was employed by United Healthcare in the Student Resources Department in Dallas, Texas and managed insurance for graduate and medical students. Thomas allegedly stole private information while employed in Student Resources and used it to file fraudulent income tax reports and receive refund checks.
The UC Irvine Police Department released a statement on March 20 regarding student reports of identity theft asking those with any information regarding the thefts to contact UCIPD.
In all, over 163 students reported their identities stolen, with the majority claiming the Internal Revenue Service had returned their electronically-submitted tax return with the notice that their personal return had already been submitted.
UCIPD Sergeants Tony Frisbee and Shaun Devlin as well as Corporal Caroline Altamirano worked with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and the IRS for several months investigating the identity thefts from United Healthcare. Evidence gathered by the authorities has revealed that Thomas was not working alone.
“[Thomas] wasn’t the only one involved,” stated UCIPD Chief of Police Paul Henisey. “He was probably feeding the information to a group of schemers who attack nationwide.”
The UCIPD is aware of at least two other individuals involved in the thefts based on IRS evidence. However, according to Henisey there may be many more individuals involved in the crime.
“[T]here could be a criminal enterprise of as many as two dozen,” Henisey said.
Henisey and the UCIPD are committed to helping the victims of identity theft return their financial lives to normal.
First, according to Henisey, United Healthcare has offered a 3-year credit monitoring program to victims of theft to prevent additional financial suffering. Second, the UCIPD will continue to upgrade digital safety and review how personal information is shared.
“Although United Healthcare didn’t use their clients’ Social Security numbers, they still had them on file,” Henisey said, regarding the specific number that allowed Thomas to exploit his victims. “We have now scoured all files of Social Security numbers.”
Additionally, the IRS has given refunds to victims ranging from $1,500 to $4,000. The UCIPD will continue to work with the IRS to arrest the remaining conspirators.
“The university takes protection very seriously,” Henisey said. “We will redouble our efforts to make living and working here as safe as possible.”