News and Press Releases

Two Charged with Tax Refund Fraud Utilizing Stolen Social Security Office Identity Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Guy P. Fallen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announced the filing of a three-count Information charging defendants Jean LaFrance, 28, of North Miami, and Carlos Orozco, 18, of Pembroke Pines, in connection with a tax refund scheme that used stolen social security information.

More specifically, LaFrance and Orozco were each charged with conspiracy to submit false claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. LaFrance was additionally charged with theft of public money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. If convicted on the conspiracy count, the defendants each face a maximum statutory sentence of up to ten years in prison. If convicted on the theft of public money count, LaFrance faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to ten years in prison. If convicted on the aggravated identity theft count, LaFrance faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.

As alleged in the Information, between April and October 2011, defendant Orozco was employed as a volunteer at the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office, in Pembroke Pines, Florida. As a volunteer employee, Orozco had access to sensitive SSA documents containing personal identification information of SSA applicants, including names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and other sensitive personal information. In exchange for cash payments from LaFrance and the promise of future payments, Orozco provided LaFrance with the personal identifying information of thousands of SSA applicants from paperwork he stole from the SSA.

According to the Information, LaFrance then used the stolen personal identifying information of the SSA applicants to file false federal income tax returns in the names of the identity theft victims using a Turbo Tax program through the internet. In this way, LaFrance claimed IRS tax refunds to which he was not entitled. To execute the scheme, LaFrance directed the IRS to direct deposit the refunds onto Turbo Tax Green Dot reloadable debit cards (debit cards), and to either mail the loaded debit cards to Orozco’s home or to other addresses he controlled. Alternatively, LaFrance would direct the IRS to simply load the fraudulently claimed refunds onto debit cards that he already possessed. Upon receipt of the loaded debit cards, LaFrance would convert the funds to cash.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, and IRS-CID. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Kay and Marc Anton.

An Information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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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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