Essex County, New Jersey, Man Gets 42 Months In Prison For Selling Fake Driver’s Licenses Online, Filing Bogus Tax Returns
NEWARK, N.J. – A Newark man was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for selling fake driver’s licenses through an online shop and filing fraudulent tax returns using stolen identity information, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Alexis Scott Carthens, 40, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with authentication features and one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims. Judge Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From October 2012 through August 2014, Ricardo Rosario, 35, of Jersey City, New Jersey, with the assistance of Carthens and Abraham Corcino, 36, of Jersey City, sold fake driver’s licenses over the Internet. In connection with their illegal operation, the defendants ran a website that was available at “fakeidstore.co” and “fakedlstore.com.”
A number of the fake driver’s licenses sold by Rosario and other conspirators were used by criminal actors in connection with “cash out” schemes where stolen credit card information, usually obtained through hacking or ATM skimming operations, was encoded on to counterfeit credit cards and used to steal cash from victims’ accounts.
The website sold fake New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin driver’s licenses, and the website boasted that the licenses had “scannable barcodes” and “real” holographic overlays. The price for each fake driver’s license was approximately $150, but the website offered bulk pricing for orders of 10 or more.
The website allowed its users to pay by bitcoin, a cryptographic-based digital currency, or MoneyPak, a type of prepaid payment card that could be purchased at retail stores. The “FAQ” section of the website indicated that orders would be received approximately one to two days after payment was received and described the website’s policy with respect to returns: “No Refunds. No snitching.”
Rosario created and ran the website. Corcino and Carthens assisted Rosario by creating and mailing the fake driver’s licenses purchased through the website. Corcino also maintained an Instagram account to promote the website.
At his plea hearing, Carthens admitted that his role was to create the driver’s licenses and to mail them to the website’s customers. Carthens also admitted that he believed that some of the website’s clients were using the fake driver’s licenses to commit credit card fraud.
Carthens also admitted to his involvement in a separate scheme, spanning from December 2012 through November 2013, to use information stolen from a medical lab to file false and fraudulent tax returns. Carthens admitted working with at least one other conspirator, who assisted Carthens by providing him with email addresses and physical addresses to receive the fraudulently claimed tax refund money.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Carthens to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $121,922.32.
Rosario and Corcino have both pleaded guilty to related charges. Rosario was sentenced to 63 months in prison. Corcino was given three years of probation.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Ruth M. Mendonca; and special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Ward, deputy chief of the asset forfeiture program.
Defense counsel: Wanda M. Akin Esq., Newark