Tacoma woman gets 30 months for 'pen pal' tax-fraud scheme hatched in prison

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A 45-year-old woman who used a prison pen pal program to steal identities and file fraudulent tax returns has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.

A federal judge sentenced Shannon Henderson, of Tacoma, for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft on Friday.

Prosecutors say she fraudulently received about $56,000 in tax refunds through a scheme she hatched while an inmate at the Washington Women's Correctional Center in Purdy.

According to prosecutors, Henderson became friends with inmates across the country and used them to get the identities of other people. She also bought personal information of people who worked for a janitorial service employed by the state.

She filed more than 150 tax returns under false identities and had tax refunds sent to her at addresses of friends and relatives.