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Buffalo woman admits $435,000 tax refund scam

A Buffalo woman pleaded guilty Friday to cheating the state and federal governments out of more than $400,000 in tax refunds in a criminal operation that authorities say began in 2012.

Kalah Bishop, 27, admitted to committing access device fraud for filing fraudulent state and federal tax returns for more than four dozen people and having the refunds from the phony returns deposited onto debit cards.

Bishop and others used the cards to make cash withdrawals from the accounts and to shop, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who handled the case. A total of more than $435,000 was refunded from the returns, and Bishop has been ordered to repay the full amount to the Internal Revenue Service and the state Department of Finance.

Shantelle P. Kitchen, special agent-in-charge of the IRS, and Michael Szrama of the state tax department directed the investigation.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 11 before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.