Woman gets 12 years for tax fraud scheme

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Latissha Johnson
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Latissha Johnson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 37-year-old Jacksonville woman was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for her involvement in an identity theft scheme known as Operation Zig Zag.

In March, Latissha Johnson pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft and defrauding a financial institution by schemes.

Investigators said Johnson is one of 17 people involved in this scheme, which received its name as a result of an investigation that crossed the country with victims from Florida to New York.

The seven-month-long investigation, conducted by the State Attorney's Office, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, began in May 2012 after VyStar Credit Union contacted authorities about irregular activity involving IRS refund checks.

Johnson played a major role in the scheme, in which she stole the victims' personal identification information and used the information to file fraudulent tax returns. Johnson also opened up fraudulent bank accounts and fraudulent credit cards in victims' names.

Johnson collaborated with co-conspirators to steal Social Security checks from the mail and then in turn sell them on the black market. Johnson made more than $135,000 through the fraudulent tax scheme alone.

At the time of her arrest, Johnson had several fraudulent credit cards and handwritten ledgers full of identity theft victims' information, including Social Security numbers, names and dates of birth.