News and Press Releases

Broward Resident Pleads Guilty in Treasury Check Cashing and Stolen Identity Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, announce that defendant Ronald Walker, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, pled guilty today for his participation in a check cashing and stolen identity scheme. Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn.

Specifically, Walker pled guilty to one count of theft of public money, a United States income tax refund check, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum term of ten years in prison for the theft of public money charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for the aggravated identity theft charge.

According to court documents, a confidential informant (CI) told federal agents that Walker routinely received stolen or fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury checks and negotiated them at a check cashing store called American Quick Cash (AQC) located in Broward County, which was owned by Wilson and Kate Lau. The CI also stated that Walker forged the payees’ endorsements on the back of the checks and provided Wilson Lau with the payees’ social security numbers and copies of altered Florida driver’s licenses.

Court documents state that during two undercover operations, Walker was given genuine, unendorsed treasury checks created specifically for this investigation. During another undercover operation, Walker was given three genuine, unendorsed treasury tax refund checks, which resulted from fraudulent tax returns filed by unknown persons in the names and social security numbers of real people. Walker was also provided with driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, and dates of birth for all of the payees on the checks. Walker went to AQC, and then gave the CI and/or undercover agent their portion of the cashed checks. After clearing the banking system, the checks that were created for this investigation included endorsements on the back, but the payees were fictitious and could not have endorsed the checks.

From February 2010 through May 2011, the total amount of U.S. Treasury checks cashed by Walker at AQC is approximately $1,234,114. The number of victims involved is greater than 50, but fewer than 250.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia E. Shick.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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