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Columbus mailman indicted in tax fraud scheme

A grand jury has indicted a Columbus mail carrier for collecting fraudulent tax refunds on his mail route.

Federal investigators said Harold Coley conspired with Keshia Lanier to use stolen personal identification information from an Alabama state database and other sources to file false federal income tax returns for 2011 and 2012.

Coley was paid to divert tax refunds to fake addresses or vacant homes on his postal route and give the checks to his accomplices.

He faces up to 10 years in prison for conspiracy, 20 years for mail fraud, five years for stealing mail, and two years for aggravated identity theft.

Authorities say Lanier of Seale, Ala., was the ringleader of a $24 million conspiracy to steal victims’ identities for use in filing fraudulent tax returns.