Identity Thief Sentenced to 61 Months in Prison
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – McKenzie Deshommes Francois, 22, of Miami, was sentenced yesterday afternoon to 61 months in prison based upon his guilty plea to charges of conspiring to file false claims, conversion of government property, using unauthorized access devices, and aggravated identity theft. United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle sentenced Francois to two years in prison for using stolen identities consecutive to 37 months on the other charges. Judge Hinkle also sentenced Francois to three years of supervised release and $269,358 in restitution. The sentence was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The government’s evidence showed that on May 8, 2013, Francois left a wallet containing thirteen debit cards at the Tallahassee Airport. When Francois asked about the wallet at his destination, Ft. Lauderdale, he was interviewed by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). During that interview, Francois admitted that the debit cards in the wallet contained income tax refunds that were issued on the basis of fraudulent income tax returns and that he had been paid to retrieve the cards from an apartment complex in Tallahassee. He also admitted that he had prepared fraudulent income tax returns himself, although not all of his efforts had been successful.
Evidence showed that Francois used fifty-six stolen identities and attempted to obtain $522,410 in fraudulent refunds. This included ten victims and attempted losses of $86,531 on the debit cards found in his wallet. In addition, nine victims linked to $77,756 in attempted losses were identified from a search of his cellular telephone. Thirty-seven more victims and $358,410 in attempted losses were linked to the defendant based upon common factors - - same IP address, same stolen tax preparer ID number, same entries for tax calculations, and same twenty-three day filing period - - used in other fraudulent tax filings. The last of these 37 fraudulent returns was filed on May 7, 2014 - - the day before Francois was interviewed by the IRS. A witness at sentencing testified that more than 800 fraudulent tax returns claiming more than seven million dollars in refunds were filed using the same “recipe” and the same stolen tax preparer ID number, but agreed that Francois could not be connected to the bulk of those returns.
U.S. Attorney Marsh credited the success of this prosecution to the joint efforts of the U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Simpson.