Miami Man Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, and Sergio Velazquez, Chief, Hialeah Police Department, announced that defendant Lineten Belizaire, 22, of Miami, pled guilty today for his role in a stolen identity tax refund scheme.
More specifically, Belizaire pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Sentencing is scheduled for May 28, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. At sentencing, the defendant faces a possible statutory maximum sentence of up to 12 years in prison.
According to the plea documents, beginning in mid-2011 and 2012, Belizaire was involved in a scheme to use stolen personal identification information of others to file fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns claiming refunds on debit cards. Belizaire exchanged personal identification information of victims by text message for use in the tax refund fraud scheme. During a traffic stop conducted on January 31, 2012, law enforcement found notebooks and papers containing personal information on more than 1,000 victims and approximately 40 prepaid debit cards, including some of the identities exchanged by Belizaire. In addition, more than 80 fraudulent tax returns using stolen identifications were electronically filed from the IP address belonging to the defendant. The defendant was also observed on ATM video withdrawing money on multiple occasions from debit cards loaded with fraudulent tax refunds.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Hialeah Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.
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.