Memphis, TN –After a four-day jury trial with proper COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Terry Benson, 47, of Senatobia, Mississippi, has been found guilty as charged of Theft of Government Funds, Mail Fraud, and Passing Fictitious Instruments. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the conviction today.
Benson was found guilty of defrauding the IRS by submitting fictitious financial instruments in the amounts of $393,053.78 and $1.3 million and other numerous fraudulent documents, causing the IRS to send him a refund check for $297,311.12. He then used those funds to open accounts with Morgan Stanley and Regions Bank and purchase a mobile home and other personal items. In addition, he was found guilty of using the U.S. Mail in furtherance of these crimes.
According to the indictment, Benson executed a scheme to steal funds from the IRS. Benson sent the IRS a fictitious money order as a “Tax Account Settlement Payment” which was applied to balances he owed for tax years 2006, 2007, and 2010 to settle his debt. The IRS issued him a refund check in the amount of $297,311.12 for the overage amount after applying amounts to his IRS debt and debt owed by Benson to the Tennessee Office of Child Support Enforcement Services. Benson filed many fraudulent documents with the IRS naming public officials, organizations or other entities in the documents. In some instances, Benson filed UCC-1 financing statements with the Tennessee Secretary of State naming Regions Bank, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Shelby County Juvenile Court, the IRS and an employee of the IRS as debtors while identifying himself as the creditor.
On March 19, 2019, Benson was indicted for theft of government funds, mail fraud, and passing a fictitious financial instrument. A sentencing hearing is set for February 25, 2021, before U.S. District Court Judge Mark Norris, where Benson faces possible sentences of up to 10 years for the theft of government funds; up to 20 years for the mail fraud; and up to 25 years for passing fictitious instruments. There is no parole in the federal system.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: “Protection of the integrity of the United States Treasury and the sanctity of the U.S. Mail system is a top priority for the Department of Justice and this office. This guilty verdict demonstrates our ability and resolve to expose fraudulent schemes against the government, hold offenders accountable for their dishonest criminal conduct, and to recover ill-gotten proceeds on behalf of the United States.”
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Damon K. Griffin and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eileen Kuo are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.