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Bowie man pleads guilty to stealing youth identities in fraud scheme | News

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Bowie man pleads guilty to stealing youth identities in fraud scheme
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BOWIE, Md. (WUSA9) -- The Washington Post made him the subject of a glowing profile for his role working with troubled youth in 2001. Prosecutors say just a few years later, Marc Bell began stealing the identities of other troubled young people and feeding them into a massive scheme to defraud the government of millions of dollars in tax refunds.

Prosecutors say Bell, 49, of Bowie, Maryland used his position at the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services to steal names and social security numbers of the young people he worked with so that his criminal associates could use their information to file fraudulent tax returns and collect the refunds.

According to charging documents filed by the Department of Justice, information provided by Bell allowed his co-conspirators to file more than eleven hundred fraudulent tax returns claiming some $4.4 million dollars in refunds.

As investigators began to roll up the plot, they discovered more than 130 co-conspirators. Some have been arrested and charged, others remain at large.

The scope of the fraud scheme is enormous. Prosecutors say the believe the group filed more than 12,000 fraudulent tax returns over an approximately seven year period, claiming $42 million dollars in refunds. The Treasury department mailed out checks to 430 addresses in DC, Maryland and Virginia, sometimes sending more than 100 checks to a single address in a year.

The leaders of the fraud scheme paid out individual members based on their role in the scheme. Prosecutors don't clearly outline how much money Bell was paid for his efforts, but the terms of his plea agreement call for $2 million dollars in restitution.

Reached by email on Tuesday night, Bell's attorney said he would comment only at his client's sentencing in April.

DYRS issued a statement Tuesday saying the agency limited access to the confidential information Bell accessed after it learned of his arrest.

"While this behavior is a gross breach of this sacred trust, this is not characteristic of our agency or our staff," the agency's statement read in part.

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