News and Press Releases

Miami Man Convicted in $3.3 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2013

Defendant Filed Approximately 400 Fraudulent Tax Returns Seeking Refunds

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), Miami Field Office, and Rafael P. Hernandez, Jr., Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, announced that a jury convicted Charlton Escarmant, 29, of Miami, of one count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287, one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). Sentencing has been scheduled for June 17, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Lenard. At sentencing, he faces a possible statutory maximum sentence of 24 years in prison.

On October 5, 2012, Charlton Escarmant and co-conspirator Arthy Icart were charged in a five-count indictment for their participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme. According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, some of the personal identification information used by Escarmant and Icart to file fraudulent tax returns was stolen from Tallahassee Community College’s (TCC) financial aid office. In fact, more than 3,200 names found on a computer in Escarmant’s possession came from TCC.

To execute the scheme, Escarmant filed tax returns using the stolen identification information and also in his own name and created false W-2 forms with fictitious employer information. Escarmant’s W-2 form falsely claimed that he was a veterinarian at Central Broward Animal Hospital. In fact, however, Escarmant never worked at the Central Broward Animal Hospital.

At the time of their arrest, Escarmant and his co-conspirator unlawfully possessed approximately 22 pre-paid tax debit cards in the names of other individuals. In total, during the course of the scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirator submitted approximately 400 fraudulent tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service, seeking more than $3.3 million in tax refunds.

Co-conspirator Arthy Icart pled guilty on January 17, 2013 to charges of conspiracy to file fraudulent claims, access device fraud, and aggravated ID theft. Sentencing is scheduled for April 1, 2013 before U.S. District Judge Lenard.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI and the North Miami Beach Police Department. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Tallahassee Community College for their cooperation during this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael B. Nadler and Elina Rubin-Smith.

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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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