News and Press Releases

Two Convicted of Tax Refund Fraud That Used Stolen Social Security Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 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 (SSA-OIG), and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announce that Jean LaFrance, 28, of North Miami, and Carlos Orozco, 18, of Pembroke Pines, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Robert Scola, Jr., to one count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the government, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. LaFrance also pled guilty to one count of theft of public money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Sentencing is scheduled for June 15, 2012.

According to the Criminal Information and statements made in court, between April and October 2011, Orozco worked as a volunteer at the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office, in Pembroke Pines, Florida. In his position, Orozco had access to sensitive SSA documents that contained the personal identification information of SSA applicants, including their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. Orozco stole sensitive documents from the SSA and, in exchange for cash payments and the promise of future payments from LaFrance, gave LaFrance the personal identification information of thousands of SSA applicants.

LaFrance then used the stolen information to file false federal income tax returns in the names of the SSA applicants. He filed the false tax returns over the internet, using Turbo Tax, an on-line tax filing program. In the filings, LaFrance claimed IRS tax refunds to which he was not entitled. To execute the scheme and access the money, LaFrance directed the IRS to direct deposit the refunds onto Turbo Tax Green Dot reloadable debit cards and to either mail the loaded debit cards to Orozco’s home or to other addresses that LaFrance controlled. Alternatively, LaFrance directed the IRS to simply load the fraudulently claimed refunds onto debit cards that he already possessed. Upon receipt of the loaded debit cards, LaFrance converted the refunds to cash.

On the conspiracy count, each defendant faces up to ten years imprisonment. In addition, LaFrance faces up to ten years imprisonment on the theft of public money count and a mandatory consecutive prison sentence of two years on the aggravated identity theft count.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the SSA-OIG and IRS-CID. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Kay and Marc Anton.

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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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