Margate Resident Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
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 Louis A. Francois, 44, of Margate, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). Sentencing is scheduled for June 5, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.
According to court documents, Francois owned and operated a tax preparation business called A&I Multi Services (A&I) located in Oakland Park. Francois stole personal identifying information (PII) of various individuals, including their names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and addresses, for the purpose of filing fraudulent U.S. income tax returns claiming tax refunds in those individuals’ names. Subsequently, Francois printed out the refund checks payable to the persons whose PII was used at A&I. The checks were in the amount of the fraudulently obtained tax refunds minus Francois’ “tax preparation” fees and other fees. The “tax preparation” fees were deposited into Francois’ bank account. Francois went to a check cashing store located next door to A&I with the fraudulently obtained tax refund checks and fraudulent Florida driver's licenses matching the stolen identities on the checks and cashed them.
From July 2010 through June 2011, the total amount of U.S. Treasury checks cashed by Francois and the total amount of fraudulent refunds requested by Francois is approximately $355,000. The number of victims involved is greater than ten, but fewer than fifty.
Francois faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for the wire fraud charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for the aggravated identity theft charge.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the Secret Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia E. Shick.
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.