News and Press Releases

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2013

Defendant Filed Approximately 400 Fraudulent Tax Returns Seeking Refunds

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office, and Rafael P. Hernandez, Jr., Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, announced that Charlton Escarmant, 29, of Miami, was sentenced yesterday on identity theft tax refund charges. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced Escarmant to 94 months in prison, to be followed by 3 year of supervised release. A restitution hearing is scheduled for August 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM.

Escarmant was charged with co-defendant Arthy Icart for their participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme. On March 19, 2013, a jury convicted defendant Escarmant of one count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the Internal Revenue Service, one count of access device fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. 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.

According to the evidence presented during trial, 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 Icart 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 was sentenced on April 5, 2013, after having pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to file fraudulent claims, access device fraud, and aggravated ID theft. U.S. District Judge Lenard sentenced Icart to a total of 70 months’ imprisonment followed by one year of supervised release. In addition, Icart was ordered to pay restitution of $1,387,774.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to 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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