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Rockville Centre woman pleads in tax scam

A Rockville Centre woman pleaded guilty to charges she and a friend used phony Craigslist ads to steal hundreds of people's identities nationwide, using them to swipe about $75,000 in fraudulent tax returns, bank loans and credit cards, prosecutors said Thursday.

Susan Pemberton, 43, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Nassau County Court in Mineola to charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud, offering a false instrument for filing and identity theft, Nassau County prosecutors said.

Pemberton, arrested Nov. 16, faces 2 to 4 years in prison at her Jan. 23 sentencing, prosecutors said. She also faces federal charges. Her attorney could not be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said that between February 2010 and October 2011, Pemberton and co-defendant Cynthia Sibert, 23, of Roslyn, placed ads on Craigslist for employment opportunities and apartment rentals that didn't exist.

They sent their victims applications seeking name, address, birth date and Social Security number, and used that information to file more than 250 fraudulent tax returns and bank loan and credit card applications, prosecutors said.

Overall, the duo requested more than $500,000 in fraudulent refunds before state tax investigators discovered their scheme, authorities said. Sibert also used her job as a home health care aide to steal identities of elderly people she cared for and opened credit cards in their names, prosecutors said.

Sibert pleaded guilty June 28 and was sentenced Aug. 30 to time served and 5 years' probation. She was also ordered to pay $61,089 in restitution.

A third co-defendant, Keith Campbell, 52, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty July 27. He received a conditional discharge and was ordered to pay $11,221 in restitution.

Victims who tried to file New York State tax returns after the women stole their identities often had their returns rejected because the defendants had already collected refunds, prosecutors said.

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