By Associated Press - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Florida man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for his role in a stolen identity tax refund scheme.

Thirty-seven-year-old Eddie Blanchard of Miami also was ordered Tuesday in federal court in Richmond to pay more than $568,000 in restitution.

Court records show Blanchard and three others traveled to Richmond and used stolen personal information to claim hundreds of fraudulent refunds through online tax preparation programs. They requested the refunds be placed on pre-paid debit cards that were mailed to Richmond addresses.

Two others received prison sentences of 9.5 and 11 years in the scheme. A fourth suspect remains a fugitive.

The scheme unraveled after a Henrico County police officer saw one of the suspects removing a box containing stolen personal information from a rented storage unit.

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