News and Press Releases


Homestead Man Sentenced in $5 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Check Cashing Scam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Marcelin Jean Louis, 40, of Homestead, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, for a tax refund scheme that resulted in the cashing of approximately $5 million in fraudulent tax refund checks. The defendant was also ordered to pay $4.5 million in restitution.

According to the plea documents, from in or around March 2012, through in or around October 2012, Louis obtained U.S. Department of Treasury tax refund checks from various individuals, which checks had been fraudulently obtained. The defendant brought the fraudulently obtained U.S. Department of Treasury tax refund checks to a co-conspirator to be cashed. In total, during this period, Louis cashed thousands of these fraudulently obtained income tax refund checks (the total amount of tax refund checks cashed by Argo Check Cashing during this period totaled approximately $5MM). In order to cash the checks, Louis brought copies of fake driver’s licenses with the name of the individual on the tax refund check.

According to the plea documents, Louis knew that the checks had been obtained by fraud and – to compensate him for the risk of cashing fraudulent checks – he received approximately 20% of the value of the checks. The defendant admitted in a recording with the owner of the store that he knew that the checks had been obtained by fraud.

According to statements made at sentencing, Louis agreed to turn over six different houses, one vehicle, and other assets totaling nearly $1 million.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and USSS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

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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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