News and Press Releases

Five Defendants Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud and Access Device Fraud Schemes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), announce that Alex Dontfred, 29, David Tilus, 27, Sherika Rowe, 20, Fritznel Etienne, 24, and Latonya Ware, 27, all of Lauderhill, were sentenced for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme and an access device fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of over $137,000 in fraudulent tax refund claims and over $49,000 in unauthorized access device purchases.

Dontfred was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay forfeiture of $49,561.88 and restitution in the amount of $45,711.10. Tilus was sentenced on March 10, 2014 to 70 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $188,322 in restitution. Rowe was sentenced on March 13, 2014 to 45 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a money judgment of $136,538 and restitution in the amount of $136,535. Etienne was sentenced on March 14, 2014 to 34 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a money judgment of $11,204 and restitution in the amount of $3,844.81. Latonya Ware was sentenced on March 10, 2014 to 34 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a money judgment of $136,535 and restitution in the amount of $136,535.

Dontfred previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(b)(2) and 1029(a)(2), respectively. Tilus previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349, 1343, 1029(b)(2) and 1028A(a)(1), respectively. Rowe previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, 1343 and 1029A(a)(1), respectively. Etienne previously pled guilty to one count each of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A(a)(1), respectively. Latonya Ware previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 and 1029A(a)(1), respectively.

According to court documents, Andrew Ware, David Tilus, Latonya Ware and Sherika Rowe obtained the personal identifying information (PII) of numerous identity theft victims, including their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. Latonya Ware stole patients' names and social security numbers from a medical office where she worked, and gave the PII to Tilus and her cousin, Andrew Ware. Rowe electronically filed fraudulent tax returns utilizing the victims’ names and social security numbers, and the fraudulent refunds from these returns were loaded onto prepaid debit cards that Tilus and Andrew Ware used to purchase gift cards and other merchandise from retail stores. Fraudulent refunds claimed by Andrew Ware, Tilus, Latonya Ware and Rowe from the stolen identities totaled approximately $137,132.

Court documents state that Andrew Ware, David Tilus, Jaqwayn Henry, Alex Dontfred and Fritznel Etienne utilized victims’ access devices, without their authorization, to purchase merchandise totaling at least $1,000 in a single year. These defendants obtained credit card numbers from various victims and used these stolen access devices to purchase merchandise, gift cards and prepaid debit cards for later use. The total amount of fraudulent charges made or attempted to be made by Andrew Ware, Tilus, Henry, and Dontfred utilizing the stolen credit cards is $49,561.88. From approximately January 20, 2012 through January 22, 2012, the total amount of fraudulent charges made or attempted to be made by Etienne utilizing a stolen credit card number is $11,942.23.

Co-defendant Andrew Ware, 27, of Lauderhill, previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349, 1343, 1029(b)(2) and 1028A(a)(1), respectively. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on April 18, 2014.

Co-defendant Jaqwayn Henry, 23, of Lauderhill, is a fugitive. The indictment was dismissed against Latanya Ware.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the USSS, and BSO. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alicia Shick and Harry Wallace.

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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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