News and Press Releases

Broward County Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving Theft of Hundreds of TIAA-CREF Clients’ Personal Identifying Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that defendant Jeffrey Alexander Martin, 27, of Broward County, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum to 99 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Martin was also ordered to pay $197,088 in restitution.

Martin and co-defendant Tobin Lamar Lyon, II, a/k/a/ Tobe Kasa, 27, of Charlotte, North Carolina, previously pled guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title l8, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). Judge Rosenbaum’s sentencing decision as to Martin was largely influenced by the fact that Martin committed the exact same crime, after pleading guilty in this case, when he was arrested with new access devices including gift cards that he had converted into credit and debit cards by encoding the credit card numbers and bank account information of victims on those cards. Lyon was sentenced on January 6, 2014 to 72 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Lyon was also ordered to pay $118,602.52 in restitution.

According to court documents, Lyon worked as a service representative for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), a financial services company specializing in providing retirement services to those in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. As an employee of TIAA-CREF, Lyon had access to the names, addresses, social security numbers, and dates of birth of TIAA-CREF's clients.

Court documents state that Lyon, in anticipation of a share of the proceeds, provided Martin with personal identifying information (PII) belonging to individual clients of TIAA-CREF for the purpose of filing fraudulent tax returns claiming tax refunds in those clients' names. Lyon sent over 500 different identities to Martin. For the tax years 2011 and 2012, the total amount of fraudulent refunds claimed by Martin as a result of the stolen PII he received from Lyon is approximately $304,611. From those fraudulent returns, Martin received approximately $5,776 in fraudulent refunds. Lyon knowingly possessed and transferred the victims' means of identification without authority and permitted Martin to use the stolen PII to file these fraudulent returns. During the time that Lyon was providing stolen PII of TIAA-CREF clients to Martin, he was also providing stolen PII to others in New York for the purpose of raiding the TIAA-CREF clients' bank accounts.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, and thanked the Sunrise Police Department for its assistance in this case. 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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