Deputies: Traffic stop leads to tax fraud arrest

Lee County Sheriff's detectives say they uncovers a tax fraud scheme involving elderly and deceased victims after a traffic stop on Interstate 75.

A detective with the Lee County Highway Interdiction Unit noticed a gold minivan traveling southbound on I-75 extremely close to the vehicle in front of it at a high rate of speed. The frame of the vehicle tag also was covering the state of issue.

The detective approached the van from the passenger side, where Crystal Johnson Douglas, 36, of North Port was seated. According to arrest reports, he could smell marijuana and noticed a yellow note pad with tax ID numbers written on it.

While searching the van, reports say the detective found lists containing names, Social Security numbers, and other information consistent with identity theft schemes. There also was a list of tax returns, account number, and dollar amounts for refunds, reports said.

Numerous prepaid debit cards were found in Douglas' purse. Reports say she admitted to the detective that she had marijuana cigarette hidden in her wig.

Douglas was arrested and is facing charges of five counts of fraud for using a people identification without consent, two counts of fraud for using identification of the deceased, and possession of marijuana.

According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, most of the approximately 25 victims in this case are either elderly, have intellectual disabilities, or are deceased.

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