News and Press Releases


Miami-Dade Resident Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme Involving Thousands of Individuals’ Personal Identifying Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Ronald J. Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, announce that William Hernandez, 29, of Miami, pled guilty to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Sentencing is scheduled for October 8, 2014. At sentencing, the defendant faces up to ten years in prison for the unauthorized access device charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for the aggravated identity theft charge.

According to court documents, on October 17, 2013, a cooperating defendant with the initials O.C. advised the IRS that Hernandez sold him personal identifying information (PII) that O.C. used as part of a stolen identity refund fraud scheme internally referred to as “the lotto scheme.” The lotto scheme listed the same address for unrelated taxpayers and the tax returns contained Forms W-2G, purportedly issued by the Florida Department of the Lottery, for alleged lottery winnings. On or around January 18, 2012, a lotto scheme tax return for tax year 2011 was filed with Hernandez’s PII requesting an $18,744.00 tax refund. Hernandez later admitted that O.C. filed a false return for Hernandez using the lotto scheme because Hernandez needed money.

Court documents also state that on March 28, 2014, during a recorded conversation, O.C. asked Hernandez to provide PII to another cooperating witness (CW) in exchange for payment. Hernandez agreed. Hernandez told O.C. that he would be able to provide the CW with names because he had thousands of names at his house.

According to court documents, IRS executed a search warrant at Hernandez’s residence and found thousands of PII. Hernandez told the IRS that he allowed O.C. to open a tax business in Hernandez’s name using Hernandez’s grandmother’s address. Hernandez also said that the stolen identities and identifying information in his possession were “for real people.” Some of the identities were for individuals who were “old” and some were for individuals who were deceased. Additionally, Hernandez admitted he knew that the stolen identities were being utilized for tax returns prepared by O.C.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, ICE-HSI and USPIS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha R. Mitrani.

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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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