News and Press Releases

Two Miami Men Convicted in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving over 1,000 Victims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2013

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), Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Sergio Velazquez, Chief, Hialeah Police Department (HPD), announced the conviction at trial of Earnest Baldwin, 36 of Miami, and Earl Baldwin, 42 of Miami, for their participating in a tax refund scheme using stolen identities to convert government monies for their own use. More specifically, both were convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, one count of access device fraud, and multiple counts of aggravated identity theft, in connection with an identity theft tax refund fraud scheme.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, the defendants were involved in an identity theft tax fraud scheme that operated from July 2011 through June 2012. During the course of their fraud scheme, approximately $1.7 million in fraudulent refund claims were submitted to the IRS for payment. Nearly all of these claims requested payment of the refunds onto pre-paid debit cards and some of these claims were filed from Earl Baldwin’s residence.

The trial testimony and evidence further showed that Earnest Baldwin was found with over 1,000 individual names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers and approximately 40 pre-paid debit cards in other people’s names. Some of these papers seized included high school report cards with identity information and data from an organization for disabled persons containing identity information. The evidence at trial also showed that both defendants withdrew money from debit cards loaded with fraudulent refunds in the names of victims in the papers and notebooks found on Earnest Baldwin.

Sentencing for both defendants has been scheduled for June 17, 2013 beginning at 8:30 AM before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga. Defendant Earnest Baldwin faces a maximum possible prison sentence of 41 years and defendant Earl Baldwin faces a maximum possible prison sentence of 29 years.

Two additional co-conspirators, Lineten Belizaire, 22, and Marckell Steward, 21, both of Miami, previously pled guilty in this matter. Belizaire pled guilty to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft on March 18, 2013. She faces a maximum possible sentence of 12 years and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 28, 2013 at 8:30 AM before Judge Altonaga. Steward pled guilty to conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft on January 31, 2013. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 12 years and is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.

Mr. Ferrer commended IRS-CID, USPIS, and HPD for their work on the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Maurice Johnson.

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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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