March 19, 2015

Lance Ealy, an Ohio man who fled home confinement last year just prior to his conviction on charges of filing phony tax refund requests on more than 150 Americans, was apprehended in a pre-dawn raid by federal marshals in Atlanta on Wednesday.

Lance Ealy, in self-portrait he uploaded to twitter before absconding.

Lance Ealy, in self-portrait he uploaded to twitter before absconding.

Ealy, 28, of Dayton, Ohio, was the subject of no fewer than three previous posts on this blog. Ealy reached out to me in February 2014, after being arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for using his email account to purchase Social Security numbers and other personal information from an online identity theft service run by a guy named Hieu Minh Ngo.

Ngo is a Vietnamese national who, for several years, ran an online identity theft service called Shortly after my 2011 initial story about his service, Ngo tauntingly renamed his site to The Secret Service took him up on that challenge, and succeeded in luring him out of Vietnam into Guam, where he was arrested and brought to New Hampshire for trial. He pleaded guilty last year to running the ID theft service, and the government has been working on rounding up his customers ever since.

Mr. Ealy was one of several individuals found guilty of identity theft charges after buying from Ngo’s service, which relied in part on data obtained through a company owned by big-three credit bureau Experian.

After being indicted on 46 counts of fraudulent activity, Ealy fired his attorney and chose to represent himself in court. In mid-November 2014 — just days before the jury in his trial was to issue its guilty verdict — Ealy slipped his ankle monitor and skipped town, but not before posting a taunting selfie to his Twitter account.

In the four months since his disappearance, investigators caught glimpses of Ealy jumping online as he made his way south to Atlanta. Incredibly, Ealy took time to file several lengthy pro se legal arguments (PDF) stating why the judge in the case was not impartial and that he deserved a retrial. When federal officials prosecuting his case responded (PDF) incredulously to his request, Ealy took it upon himself to file a response (PDF) to their motion for dismissal — all while on the lam.

Investigators close to the case say Ealy continued filing false tax refund requests while on the run from the law. But instead of turning to an underground identity theft service as he did previously, investigators say Ealy appears to have paid numerous inmates serving time in Ohio prisons for permission to file tax refund requests on their behalf with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — topping up the inmates’ commissary funds to the tune of $100 per filing while pocketing the rest of the fraudulent refunds.

According to, Ealy remains in the Northern District of Georgia until he can be extradited.

44 thoughts on “Convicted Tax Fraudster & Fugitive Caught

  1. Delilahperez

    In the Federal criminal justice system, does a convicted person who skips town lose any right to appeal their conviction? This is the situation in the California state justice system.

  2. tim

    Ok, who Photoshoped the text onto the hat? Kind of ironic.

    1. Delilahperez

      Reminds me of the guys who have things like “**** the police” or “loser” tattoed onto their foreheads. Looks fab in a mug shot.

      1. Rebecca

        Hilarious!!! And so true!! Too bad Ohio doesn’t have the 3 strikes you are history thing going for them.

    2. freddie

      Although the urban dictionary translates it as “adj. cool, nice, awesome” , so it’s probably only ironic to some.

  3. Kyle

    Another scumbag collared … these are the real criminals in today’s day and age. Good job to whoever caught them!

    1. Robert.Walter

      Although this guy belongs behind bars, he’s small fry

      I just watched an old PBS Frontline episode (Apple TV) on how the FOJ failed to prosecute any of the major bankers on Wall Street involved in the mortgage mess leading to the Great Recession. Guys like JP Morgan’s Dimon (“Somehow we missed that home prices don’t rise forever); Goldman’s Blankfein (~”Selling crap CDO’s while taking options against them is “”reducing risk””, not fraud”); Citibank’s Rubin (“I don’t recall”), who didn’t recall not responding after receiving 2 emails from a VP to the board warning of impending trouble due to rampant fraud in the mortgage origination business; any leaders from Lehmann, Bear Stearns or the like. Far as I know, none of these served time or had their seemingly fraud-derived bonuses clawed-back as restitution. I am no fan of Mr. Easly’s and think anybody doing what he does needs to be brought to account, but am perplexed why the guys that run Too Big To Fail, Inc.™, automatically get ex-officio posts and equity in Too Big To Jail, Inc.™, instead of ankle bracelets and jail time, especially since there was a major paper trail, witnesses and whistleblowers available to aid in prosecution.

      I also wonder about the perversion of our immigration system, and how we go after only the individual small-fry that commit the act of illegal immigration (who despite their having the gumption to want and risk for a better life but should be sent back to apply legally), rather than the organizations and individuals that benefit by employing such folks.

      Both The Too Big To Jail, Inc.™, and Too Small To Get Away, UnInc.®, which plunder and distort the finances and fabric of our democratic system and society seem to draw much attention but far less effective legal action or remediation than some clown in a DOPE-emblazoned cap.

      I also wonder why we as taxpayers, citizens, voters continue to allow all of this.

      (My goal in sharing these thoughts is not to hijack the thread, but rather give some nourishment for quiet contemplation and some incentive for a letter or two to the kind readers of Brian’s most excellent blog.)

      1. KG

        Your comment gives me some hope. Too many people want to nail common thieves to crosses. But what about uncommon ones?

        The Federal Reserve — it ain’t federal, it has no reserves. Yet it is allowed to control a nation’s financial system as a private entity.

        I do not believe for a second that they did not know that housing prices could not rise forever. I read it in a book about Austrian Economics written in 1921 by Rudolf Steiner. I paraphrase. “You can’t allow people to borrow against the equity in their homes because then they have to raise the sale price to cover the loan cost.”

        But I suppose because Steiner didn’t use the exact words, “asset bubble”, the Fed is off the hook for criminally stealing millions of American assets. Follow the money has become follow the paper trail of debt, and it goes back to the Fed and its cronies. Imbalances in crony capitalism rivals the oligarchical abuses of the Marxist system. I suppose you heard that 85 people own 50% of the wealth. To me, this is far more offensive than any 1%-99% split. They freeze people’s assets for using bitcoin, but it’s assumed that the 85 people who own 50% of planet Earth earned it legitimately? That is utterly impossible.

        Say, buddy, you should start your own blog. I’ll comment on your posts.

        1. BVR

          I suppose it’s like that Eddie Izzard joke about killing people.
          Kill one, they put you away for a long time.
          Kill two, they kill you.
          Kill a dozen, they lock up for life and look at you from a little hole.
          Kill thousands and the mind can’t deal with it. Someone’s killed 100,000 people. We’re almost going, “Well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning! I can’t even get down the gym. Your diary must look odd: ‘Get up in the morning, death, death, death, death, death, death, death – lunch – death, death, death – afternoon tea – death, death, death – quick shower …’ “

      2. Jarrod Frates

        At least in the case of Chase, the criminal investigation is still open. It’s complicated by a law that requires that any bank which is corporately convicted or where certain C-level executives are convicted of criminal activities loses its banking charter. The DoJ has tried to negotiate with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to be lenient in the case of criminal conviction, but the OCC has said that it would have little choice in the matter.

        If that happened to Chase or other mega-giants, the instant shut-down of all services would probably cause significant damage to the world economy. This is why deferred prosecution agreements have become the common way of addressing the cases. They’re not perfect, but they do present at least a semblance of a threat.

        I’m not arguing against criminal cases, and think a lot of people should be in jail. I’m just pointing out the major complication.

      3. Robert.Walter

        “(My goal in sharing these thoughts is not to hijack the thread, but rather give some nourishment for quiet contemplation and some incentive for a letter or two to the kind readers of Brian’s most excellent blog.)”

        Had a typo missing a few key words, so should read:

        “(My goal in sharing these thoughts is not to hijack the thread, but rather give some nourishment for quiet contemplation and some incentive for a letter or two to the elected representatives of the kind readers of Brian’s most excellent blog.)”

      4. Robert

        Don’t hijack this thread about an evil man, who could have been Obama’s son, stealing from the U.S. Taxpayers just because you want to advance you Communist agenda.

        1. kybelboy

          Ealy doesn’t look smart enough to pull
          that scam off. He sure proved it.

        2. EstherD

          In case you hadn’t noticed, simply shouting “Communist” in a crowded theater doesn’t frighten people into believing whatever you have to say. At least not the way it once did.

          But people with an attitude like yours, who look for (and find) any and all occasions to throw mud at Obama for no good reason at all, definitely *are* quite scary.

          Take your racism somewhere else. It’s *not* appreciated here.

          1. JD

            Communism isn’t a race so take your “card” back and use it somewhere appropriate. I’m guessing he learned how to sling mud from those who so passionately flung it at the previous administration. Glass houses EstherD.

              1. Kbarb

                @ Robert & JD
                The original Robert.Walter comment does come across as a hijack and is annoying, even a bit self absorbed.

                But the pointless comment re “could have been a son of Obama” is obviously racist – whatever else explanation could there be for it.

                As well, the “communist” accusation is just a simple ad hominem smear.

                But trying to say that “Robert” learned bad behavior from someone somehow distantly and stereotypically affiliated with the person calling it out is just slinging more mud, offers no real defense, and stoops to about the same level as Robert himself.

      5. FU you are a thread hijacker. and the worst kind that goes blah blah blah about unrelated crap. your comment and the others that follow to ramble on in response to the initial hijack have nothing to do with this article nor has anything to do with security. what a bunch of blowhards.

  4. Columbus_viaLA

    Murder is defined as the unjust taking of an innocent life. How better to describe identity theft? Not that I would prefer to be murdered, but at least I would not have to spend the next few years of my life, or longer, trying–and often failing–to reclaim what was taken from me.

    If you rule the death penalty off the table for any and all reasons, I cannot imagine a sentence that is too extreme for an identity thief.

    1. Freddie

      As the brother of a sister who was murdered almost four years ago, I would much rather that her identity had been stolen.

      I would gladly have recovered her identity a multitude of times for her if given the choice between that or her murder.

      I don’t disagree that identity theft is a heinous crime but it is in every way, shape and form several orders of magnitude less heinous than murder.

      To suggest otherwise even as hyperbole is to completely misunderstand the facts.

  5. Delilahperez

    Or rather, if you skip town during the trial or during jury deliberations and you are later found guilty, you forfeit the right to appeal in CA.

    1. kybelboy

      I wish California could do a real Public service and demand he be extradited to California.

  6. Rick Blaine

    This guy has skills which obviously show he is not stupid, just criminal (could be the same thing but not always).

    If THIS guy can do this stuff via the internet there is NO hope for a more secure internet.

    Go cash, go snail mail, use the telephone and forget this internet mess.

  7. Anonymous

    >using his email account to purchase Social Security numbers and other personal information from an online identity theft service
    >>using HIS email

    >Ealy fired his attorney and chose to represent himself in court.

    Hahaha. Oh wow. Talk about stupid.

    1. SeymourB

      “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

    2. Rick Blaine

      Naive but not stupid. Firing his lawyer was quite smart considering convictions on all counts.

      This man lived on the lamb for 4 months from a ton of law enforcement and still managed to arrange collecting revenue checks from inmates. He is shrewd and connected. He is clever but not stupid.

  8. Donald J Trump

    If you go to the Dayton, Ohio Municipal Court website , Lance Ealy has a nice past criminal record, along with his father.

    Charge Charge Description
    2925.11.MM POSS MARIJUANA 139.03C3.MM DRUG ABUSE Guilty

    Charge Charge Description

    Charge Charge Description 2903.13A1.F4 ASSAULT ON A PEACE OFFICER

    Charge Charge Description
    4510.12A(1).M1 NO DRIVERS LICENSE Guilty
    4510.11A.M13 DUS 3RD OR MORE VIOL OF SUSP Guilty
    4510.037J.M1 DUS 12 PT SUSP Guilty
    4510.16A.M13 FRA SUSP 3RD OR MORE Guilty

    Charge Charge Description
    2925.11AM1(9/30/08) DRUG ABUSE 2925.11.M2 ATTEMPTED DRUG ABUSE Guilty

  9. Stephen Marks Jr

    Interesting filings Ealy wrote. Clearly management material.

    1. KS

      I rather enjoyed the government’s response. It reads like a well-told, patient, fact-telling story, so at first I didn’t see why Brian said their response was ‘incredulous’, but the impression grows on you. It’s so well done I’m reluctant to see how bad the guy’s story is on the other side.

      1. IA Eng

        HA! I bet he cut and pasted most of this off other PDF’s. and put in his own relevant information. SURE, he had plenty of time to mess around on the run, especially if he kept that DOPE hat on throughout.

  10. wb

    What this guy needs is a new hat. One that says Genius. Yeah, that’s the problem.

    1. Soy Tenley

      “Genius” should have been written on the backside … of the cap.

  11. mbi

    Shouldn’t people in prison or on parole be in a database that the IRS and others can access to alert them to the fact? It would make them pause before processing their paperwork. A simple measures would easily repay the cost of such a system.

  12. Eric

    I wish people would stop using the term “identity theft.”

    The proper term here is “fraud against the bank” but the banks don’t want that liability so they call it identity theft and blame us.

    1. Josef

      Tax fraud != identity theft. Bank fraud != identity theft. Both are indeed fraud. I too am sick of conflating one with the other. I have seen the result of actual identity theft and it is quite ugly, repetitive, and life-altering. It touches far more aspects on one’s life than a single theft or fraud. Ehich is why it rankles me also that Brian repeatedly uses the term for things like this. Possessing info you should not have, even using it to commit a limited fraud, is not identity theft in and of itself. I would argue when ‘identity theft’ is used it should be used properly. Ditto aggravated identity theft.

  13. Blanche Dubois

    I’ll miss Lance…
    He made his stash the old fashioned way: He used his brains in combination with super lax US/state ID controls, for coin of the realm.
    Plus, he never used a gun to garner the easy low lying fruit/loot that is out there.

    Lance proved that you don’t have to be an illegal alien to use purchased and stolen IDs, to enjoy ill-gotten benefits/gains beyond the dreams of mere avarice, right here in the USA.
    There’s an inspirational, “rise from the bootstraps”, message here…

    Lance should have operated out of DE. This past week DE sentenced a person who stole $1 million cash (but used NO gun) to 12 months of 3 hots, and a cot, + medical care. Plus 36 mos. on parole. Of course, they must start repaying the $1M when they get out of jail…Right…
    Ain’t it a great country, or what!

    Lance instead of bolting OH, should have asked for a trial in DE, corporate home of the US’s top 500 corporations…for very good reasons…

    1. Rick Blaine

      Exactly my point and I agree Blanche.

      This guy ought to serve time AND be offered his chance to help “law enforcement” instead of losing his savvy to the history books. This guy is not stupid as so many couch potatoes here thinks. He is a survivor in a world that most Americans have no idea. Stop fighting these ingenious crooks and use their knowledge. BTW, this idea is not new as you well know.

  14. Mike

    Seems like we’re back tracking on craziness here.

    But anyway
    I can’t help but think that this could so easily be the graphic used by Comcast to show the world that only a dope would used Time Warner. Is this an indication as to (atleast in part) why Time Warner is failing so bad?

    Ya know, it used to be embarrassing for someone to appear publicly wearing the proverbial dunce hat. It seems that it’s a source of pride now.

    1. Rick Blaine

      Against the pure white folks it made you notice, didn’t it?
      These dudes hate you, don’t you get it you fooo?

      1. Mike

        I almost past over this article.

        Nothing I posted had anything to do with race at all. There are plenty of idiots within every race. If feeling of hatred are there, that’s something for others to deal with. Your response makes no sense at all. You can look at the racial side of life if you wish, that’s not where I am and it isn’t where I will ever be (one way or the other).

        I didn’t create this picture, this article, or the destructive mess that surrounds this situation. There is no reason at all to hate me for this. If Mr. Krebs doesn’t want me posting here then he can either tell me that or filter me out.

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