Three South Floridians Convicted in $2.2 Million Dollar Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Miami Field Office, and Rafael P. Hernandez, Jr., Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department announce today that a federal jury in Miami found defendants Frantz Pierre, 33, of Parkland, and Terry Pierre, 29, and Christmanie Bissainthe, 33, of Miami, guilty of charges relating to their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $2.2 million in fraudulent refund claims to the Internal Revenue Service.
Specifically, the jury convicted Frantz Pierre, Terry Pierre and Christmanie Bissainthe on 12 counts, including conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to trial evidence and testimony, 1,000 pre-paid debit cards were sent to Frantz Pierre’s business in the name of Tax Professors in May 2010. Co-conspirators subsequently caused approximately 338 fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns using stolen prisoners’ identities to be submitted to the IRS seeking $2.2 million in refunds for payment onto the Tax Professors’ debit cards. The IRS paid approximately $1.9 million in refunds in connection with these fraudulent returns to these debit cards. Evidence at trial included, among other things, video evidence of all three defendants withdrawing funds from these debit cards.
According to trial evidence and testimony, law enforcement executed a search warrant at defendant Frantz Pierre’s seven-bedroom residence in Parkland, Florida in July 2012. The evidence showed that this residence had been purchased primarily with fraudulent tax refund proceeds. After law enforcement announced their presence, an individual was observed tossing laptops from the second floor of Pierre’s residence towards the pool. Law enforcement found over 70 pre-paid debit cards and a thumb drive with over 2,000 people’s names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and IRS pin numbers in Frantz Pierre’s bedside dresser.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 22, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke. At sentencing, Frantz Pierre faces a maximum sentence of 41 years in prison, Terry Pierre faces a maximum sentence of 31 years in prison, and Christmanie Bissainthe faces a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI (Miami and St. Paul), the U.S. Secret Service, and the North Miami Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Cristina Moreno.
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.