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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 27, 2015

Two Florida Men Sentenced For Stealing Identities And Filing Phony Tax Returns

St. Louis, MO – TERRELL LANGSTON of Miami, Florida, and MONTRAIL AUSTIN of Pembroke Pines, Florida, were sentenced for their roles in a stolen identity tax refund scam.  Langston was sentenced to six years imprisonment and Austin was sentenced to two years imprisonment.  Both men were jointly ordered to repay the $492,868 loss to the U.S. government caused by their offense.

On December 1, 2014, Langston pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal government funds and one count of aggravated identity theft.  Austin pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft on the same date. 

According to the plea agreements and other court papers, Langston ran an identity theft ring from his residence in Tallahassee, Florida between February 2012 and May 2013.  Langston used stolen names and identifiers to file false and fraudulent federal tax returns in the names of others.  The tax returns all called for refunds.  Langston enlisted Austin and others to coordinate the collection of these refunds at addresses in Florida, Missouri and elsewhere.  It was Langston’s desire for refunds to be distributed to many addresses to avoid the suspicion that would arise should hundreds of tax refunds arrive at his residence.  In exchange of Austin’s help in coordinating others to receive and liquidate refunds, Austin and others received a share of the proceeds of the crime.  Austin and his cohorts are known in a scheme like this as a "cash out gang."

In all, Langston and his co-conspirators filed more than 450 returns for the 2011 and 2012 tax years, calling for more than $2.2 million dollars in refunds.  The IRS paid out $492,868 of the claimed refunds. 

"Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers," said Sybil Smith, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, St. Louis Field Office.  "I’d like to commend the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for their diligence and assistance with this investigation."

The case was broken open when a member of one of the cash out gangs was stopped for a traffic violation by the St. Louis Police Department.  The officer observed a number of debit cards in the names of others in the vehicle and seized them when the driver denied ownership of the cards.  From there, the St. Louis police cooperated with IRS Criminal Investigation to determine that phony tax returns had funded the cards.

The case was investigated by the St. Louis office of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Tom Albus handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.    

Updated March 19, 2015