Belle Glade Resident Sentenced in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Conspiracy Involving Students and Other Individuals’ Personal Identifying Information
A Palm Beach County resident was sentenced to 48 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $188,570 for his participation in a stolen identity tax refund fraud conspiracy involving students and other individuals’ personal identifying information (PII).
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Terry L. Rhodes, Executive Director, Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), made the announcement.
Oniel Winston Scarlett, 27, of Belle Glade, previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, to retain and conceal monies stolen from the United States, and to commit identity theft, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.
According to court documents, Scarlett and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained and exchanged amongst themselves the PII of other individuals, filed fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS using the stolen PII, and directed fraudulent refunds to be deposited onto pre-paid debit cards in the names of other individuals using the stolen PII.
Scarlett was in possession of stolen PII during a traffic stop on September 20, 2011. During the traffic stop, the FHP trooper conducted a consent search of Scarlett’s vehicle and found 92 Wal-Mart pre-paid debit cards; printouts of hundreds of peoples’ PII; pre-paid debit card information and money amounts for the cards; more than fifty Palm Beach County School Board’s mainframe database printouts with students’ names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth; two laptop/notebook computers with accessories; two memory sticks; a cell phone; and a phone book for the Belle Glade, Florida area. The trooper also found bank account information, where it was later determined that nearly $77,000 in federal tax refunds were direct deposited from fifty-two separate fraudulent tax returns filed with the IRS.
Scarlett admitted he had been recruited to help register pre-paid debit cards that were to be used to accept the fraudulent IRS refunds. He also admitted his role in agreeing to accept money for his role in helping complete the crime. Some of the PII was also used to file false tax returns with the IRS. On the computer, law enforcement found 228 separate login user identifications used to file false income tax returns claiming approximately $290,000.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the FHP. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton.