Delray Beach Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Jeffrey Emil Groover, 53, of Delray Beach, was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Groover was ordered to pay $350,373.86 in restitution. Groover previously pled guilty to the indictment, which charged him with making and presenting false claims to the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287.
According to court documents, prior to March 2012, victims’ personal identification information was used to electronically file fraudulent federal tax returns and obtain tax refunds via U.S. Treasury checks and refund anticipated loan checks, payable to the victims whose tax returns had been fraudulently filed. Groover’s part in this scheme was to deposit the fraudulent tax refund checks into two business accounts, Affordable Pest Protection and Useful Products, companies he owned and controlled. Groover attempted to use those proceeds for himself and to pay others involved in the scheme.
Court documents state that in March 2012, Groover opened a merchant account at Telecheck Services, Inc. in the name of Affordable Pest Protection. Several large U.S. Treasury checks were processed through the defendant's business account. Groover stated to Telecheck that he met with each of the named payees on the tax refund checks in person to convert their tax refund checks into pre-paid extermination and disinfection services. Groover further explained that he was trying to “mimic” automobile dealerships’ promotions by allowing clients to bring him their tax refund checks and apply the refund amounts to pre-paid pest control services. When TeleCheck requested that Groover provide documentation to support his claim that the refund checks were provided to Affordable Pest Protection by customers as payment for services rendered, Groover provided Telecheck copies of Affordable Pest Protection invoices billing the payees of the tax refund checks for services he never provided. None of the payees received the tax refund checks issued in their names. Nor did the payees endorse the checks or authorize Affordable Pest protection or Groover to claim the tax refund check.
In sentencing the defendant to a sentence significantly above the sentencing guideline range, the judge noted the defendant’s extensive criminal history, his recent arrest for a new identity theft crime while on bond awaiting sentencing, and the large number of victims who suffered, some for years, as a result of his repeated commission of identity theft crimes. The judge also noted that while serving a 46 month sentence for identity theft in 2004, the defendant provided testimony to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, in which he explained how easy it was to commit identity theft using the internet and how his 46 month sentence would cause him to never commit such crimes again. Since the 46 month sentence had not deterred Groover from committing new crimes, the judge imposed a 60 month sentence.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Rabinowitz.
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.