The following examples of identity theft schemes are written from public record documents on file in the court records in the judicial district in which the cases were prosecuted.
Husband and Wife Sentenced for Fraud and Identity Theft
On January 30, 2013, in Roanoke, Va., Michelle A. Ferguson, of Roanoke, Va., was sentenced to 29 months in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud and stealing the identities of others. Her husband, William J. Ferguson Jr., was sentenced to 14 months in prison for his participation in the conspiracy to commit fraud. According to court documents, the Fergusons operated a tax return preparation business out of their Roanoke home and committed fraud in two specific manners. When meeting with clients face-to-face to prepare their taxes, the Fergusons would have their clients sign the return without reviewing its contents. The returns were set-up to have any refunds deposited directly into an account controlled by the Fergusons. To maximum refunds, the Ferguson, without the knowledge of their clients, included phony Schedule C’s, Profit and Loss from Business, to the returns. Once the tax refund was received by the Fergusons, they would write a check to each client for a fraction of the total refund received. In addition, the defendants filed false tax returns using stolen social security numbers. The individuals who had their identity stolen did not receive any portion of the proceeds obtained through the false claim for refund.
Tax Preparer Sentenced for Identity Theft and Tax Fraud
On January 29, 2013, in Boston, Mass., Rosa Ivette Colon, of Milford, Mass., was sentenced to 61 months in prison and three years of supervised release for filing hundreds of false income tax returns for her clients and identity theft. She was also ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution to the IRS. In August 2012, Colon pleaded guilty to a 32-count indictment charging her with aggravated identity theft, filing false claims with the IRS, and forging endorsements on United States Treasury checks. Colon operated a business called X-Press Taxes in Somerville, Mass. During the tax years 2004 through 2010, she prepared hundreds of false income tax returns for her clients. On numerous occasions, when preparing income tax returns for clients, Colon prepared two different versions of the return. Colon gave one version of the return to the client, but filed another version seeking a larger refund with the IRS, and kept the additional fraudulent amount for herself. In addition, Colon submitted false personal income tax returns to the IRS on her own behalf. Colon also unlawfully used the identities of three individuals in connection with her fraudulent tax refund scheme.
Dominican National Sentenced for Identity Trafficking Scheme
On January 29, 2013, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Rafael Joaquin Beltre-Beltre, formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, was sentenced to 63 months in prison for his leading role in trafficking the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents. In addition Beltre-Beltre will forfeit $424,793 in illegal proceeds and be deported to the Dominican Republic after the completion of his sentence. On September 4, 2012, Beltre-Beltre pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain and one count of international money laundering. Beltre-Beltre admitted that he and his co-conspirators sold personal identifying information pertaining to real Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, including minors, and that he knew some of the identities would be used to commit tax fraud and some would be used to fraudulently apply for U.S. passports.
Florida Man Sentenced for Income Tax Fraud
On January 24, 2013, in Tallahassee, Fla., Marvens Jean-Paul, of Opa Locka, Florida, was sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $280,285 in restitution. Jean-Paul pleaded guilty in 2012 to two counts of conspiracy to file false claims, seven counts of wire fraud, and four counts of aggravated identity theft based upon his involvement in schemes to file false claims for more than $1 million in federal tax refunds in 2010 and 2011. According to court documents, Jean-Paul admitted to stealing personal identifying information from an office on the campus of a Florida university. Illegally using the information, Jean-Paul and his co-conspirators filed false tax returns. At Jean-Paul’s direction, his co-defendants, Kimle Fils-Aime and Guerline St. Charles, cashed tax refund checks generated by one of the schemes at a bank where they worked as tellers. In addition, Jean-Paul arranged for the illegally obtained tax refunds to be loaded onto prepaid debit cards, which were used to wire transfer cash. Fils-Aime was previously sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay $86,748 in restitution. St. Charles was previously sentenced to five years’ probation, with eight months’ home detention, and ordered to pay $73,320 in restitution.
Florida Woman Sentenced on Identity Theft and Fraud Charges
On January 23, 2013, in Jacksonville, Fla., Regina Ward, of Gainesville, Fla., was sentenced to 13 months in prison and three years of supervised release for charges related to identity theft, fraud against the United States, and Treasury check fraud. Ward was also ordered to pay $6,500 in restitution to the IRS. According to court documents, in February 2012, Ward met with an undercover agent (UC) posing as an individual willing and capable of cashing United States Treasury checks without proper identification. Ward presented the UC with a Treasury check for $12,727, in the name of another individual. Ward negotiated a check-cashing fee with the UC and advised that she had other checks that she needed to cash. Ward sold the Treasury check to the UC for $6,500. Later that same month, Ward met with the UC again and attempted to cash two additional Treasury checks. During the meeting, Ward sold ten stolen identities for the purpose of filing fraudulent federal income tax returns. She sold these identities for $850 each.