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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Band Of Cybercriminals Responsible For Computer Intrusions Nationwide Indicted For RICO Conspiracy That Netted Millions

Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the partial unsealing of an indictment charging Andi Jacques (41, Greenacres), Monika Shauntel Jenkins (33, Hollywood), Louis Noel Michel (28, Hollywood), Jeff Jordan Propht-Francisque (28, Pompano Beach), Dickenson Elan (39, Clearwater), Michael Jean Poix (31, West Palm Beach), Vladimyr Cherelus (33, Lauderdale Lakes), and Louisaint Jolteus (37, West Palm Beach) with Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy.[1] Jacques, Poix, Jenkins, and Michel have also been charged with wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the RICO conspiracy count. Jacques, Poix, Jenkins, and Michel also face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy count and a consecutive 2 years’ imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft count.

According to the indictment and information shared in court, from 2015 through 2019, the defendants and numerous other conspirators—including a now-deceased conspirator who is referenced in the indictment as RICH4EVER4430—banded together to engage in a sophisticated cybercrime and tax fraud scheme. 

Jenkins, Michel, Propht-Francisque, Cherelus, and RICH4EVER4430 purchased on the dark web server credentials for the computer servers of Certified Public Accounting (CPA) and tax preparation firms across the country. They used those server credentials to remotely and covertly commit computer intrusions and exfiltrate the tax returns of thousands of taxpayers who were clients of those CPA and tax preparation firms. Those tax returns included the clients’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and financial information.

Jenkins, Michel, Propht-Francisque, Cherelus, RICH4EVER4430, and other conspirators then partnered with Jacques, Elan, Poix, Jolteus, and others to form an enterprise through which they filed thousands of false tax returns in the names of more than 9,000 identity theft victims. 

Members of the enterprise created and operated at least six fraudulent tax preparation businesses in south Florida, and used those businesses to file many of these false tax returns. The conspirators directed the resulting tax refunds to debit cards and bank accounts that they controlled. Also, to make the businesses appear more legitimate, members of the enterprise opened bank accounts in the names of these fraudulent tax businesses to receive fake “tax preparer fees.” Members of the enterprise also registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) preparer tax identification numbers using the names and information of identity theft victims, to make it appear that those victims were the individuals who were filing false returns in bulk. 

In other iterations of the charged RICO conspiracy, members of the enterprise “hijacked” the IRS-issued identification numbers of CPA and tax preparation firms and used those identification numbers to file scores of additional false tax returns.  Members of the enterprise filed false self-prepared tax returns using stolen identities as well.

To obfuscate their cybercriminal conduct, the conspirators routinely used pseudonyms, opened business entities and bank accounts in the names of nominees and identity theft victims, and conducted their illicit business using dozens of different email addresses. Altogether, the enterprise claimed more than $36 million in false tax refunds over the course of approximately four years. The actual loss amount is still being calculated but is at least $4 million.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation in Orlando, with assistance from the FBI in Miami and IRS-CI in Minnesota. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Emily C. L. Chang.

 

[1] A ninth conspirator was charged, and the indictment will be fully unsealed when that conspirator is arrested.

Topic(s): 
Cybercrime
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated November 1, 2022