News and Press Releases

Identity Thief Sentenced on Tax Fraud Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), and Anthony Strianese, Chief, Delray Beach Police Department, announce that Woody Ulysse, 26, of Miami, was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams, in connection with his previous conviction for Access Device Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029.

At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams sentenced defendant Woody Ulysse to 57 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release upon his release from imprisonment, and was additionally ordered to pay $112,429 in restitution to the United States Treasury.

According to the Indictment, in-court statements, and documents in the court record, in March, 2011, the United States Secret Service, in conjunction with IRS criminal investigators, began an investigation into the filing of a large number of fraudulent tax year 2010 income tax returns, all resulting in refund requests, that had been filed by unknown individuals utilizing compromised police and firefighter identities. In this investigation, it was determined that based on information provided by the IRS, between January 16, 2011, and April 4, 2011, approximately 486 fraudulent tax returns were filed over the internet, each using unsuspecting victim’s personal identifiers, including dates of birth and social security numbers. These fraudulent returns, filed electronically with computers or other digital devices, often utilized unsecured or public wireless internet signals and “Turbo Tax” to file the electronic returns. Moreover, rather than have a fraudulent refund direct deposited into a verifiable bank account, the fraudulent returns all requested that any refunds due and owing be electronically deposited onto various pre-paid money cards, such as “Green Dot,” Walmart “Valued Customer” gift cards, and Visa or other generic gift cards that were thereafter mailed to various addresses under the unidentified defendant’s control. Armed with these pre-paid debit cards, unknown individuals were thereafter able to make cash withdrawals at ATMs or make purchases at retail stores in virtual obscurity.

In the instant case, between February 11th and February 15th, 2011, Defendant Woody Ulysse utilized fraudulently funded Visa Green Dot prepaid debit cards that had been loaded with false IRS tax refund requests, to make cash withdrawals at various local banks. These transactions, which were captured on video surveillance, were later used to identify Ulysse. Thereafter, on October 28, 2011, defendant Ulysse was arrested for “Driving while License Suspended” by the Miramar Police Department pursuant to a traffic stop. A search of defendant Ulysse’s person incident to arrest revealed eleven (11) Walmart Money Cards that were located in defendant Ulysse’s pocket. Each Walmart Money Card was loaded with either one or two electronically funded U.S. Treasury income tax refunds in names of taxpayers other than defendant Ulysse, and in the aggregate, totaled $32,323.00.

Later, during the execution of a search warrant, agents located approximately thirty-nine (39) documents, including hand written lists, printouts from local dental offices, and other computer generated notes containing Dates of Birth, Social Security Numbers, and names that were found within a plastic bag hidden behind a refrigerator. Moreover, when arrested, defendant Ulysse was found in possession of a laptop computer that was later forensically analyzed and revealed additional stolen personal identifying information from unsuspecting identity theft victims, as well as images of previously filed fraudulent IRS tax returns.

In total, Woody Ulysse was held accountable for a loss amount of approximately $507,041 and was ordered to pay $112,429 in restitution to the United States Treasury. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the United States Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative Division. This case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney 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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