A “career con artist” in Chicago stole the identities of youthful homicide victims to collect tons of of {{{dollars}}} in tax refunds and COVID-19 stimulus funds, federal prosecutors allege.

Katrina Pierce, 50, was charged with wire fraud and aggravated id theft in a 34-page grievance made public Thursday.

Prosecutors declare her fraud scheme was first current in late 2019 by the Cook County Vital Records Bureau, which seen Pierce had requested 4 demise certificates in ultimately whereas claiming to be the sister of every sufferer, regardless of having absolutely completely completely different surnames.

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A subsequent info test revealed that Pierce had requested 37 demise certificates in 2019, shopping for not less than 26 of them, in accordance to the grievance.

“The director then researched the backgrounds of the decedents and found that all of them were homicide victims, ranging in age from about 2 years to 22 years, from the south and west sides of Chicago,” the grievance reads.

The director believed Pierce centered her victims as a final result of they’d be rather a lot a lot much less in all probability to have credit score rating score historic earlier and that she may want tried opening accounts utilizing their identities, prosecutors acknowledged.

Amari Brown, a 7-year-old Chicago boy fatally shot in 2015, was allegedly amongst Pierce’s victims. She falsely claimed she was his aunt when shopping for his demise certificates in 2019 after which used the stolen info to file a fraudulent tax return that led to a $4,407 refund test from the IRS, prosecutors acknowledged.

“Why would someone want to do this?” Amari’s aunt, Andrina Hailey, educated WLS-TV, accusing Pierce of reopening the household’s wounds. “It’s very sensitive to us, and we just think it’s disgusting.”

(istock)

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IRS brokers went to Pierce’s listed return take care of in her capabilities in January 2020 and located handwritten notes itemizing the names of ineffective individuals as efficiently as their methodology of demise, together with “shot,” “killed” or “stabbed,” the grievance states.

Investigators acknowledged Pierce furthermore sought personal info of decedents in St. Louis, together with a homicide sufferer to fraudulently get hold of COVID-19 stimulus funds and a pay as you go debit card in his title.

Prosecutors acknowledged Pierce had a amount of financial institution accounts utilizing numerous names to cowl her scheme. She deposited just about $84,000 into one of the accounts over a six-month interval final yr ending in December – or bigger than twice the quantity of her total earnings reported on her tax return, in accordance to the grievance.

Pierce was arrested Tuesday and appeared earlier than a choose who ordered her held pending trial, in accordance to courtroom docket info cited by the Chicago Tribune. Her preliminary listening to is about for Tuesday.