Broward Resident Sentenced in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
A Broward resident was sentenced to 24 months and one day in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $87,562 in restitution.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office; made the announcement.
Woodley Louis-Jacques, 31, of Tamarac, pled guilty to one count of using unauthorized access devices and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A.
According to court documents, in 2014 a bank noticed suspicious activity occurring at the drive through ATM at one of its branches. Excessive withdrawals were occurring with the same cards. An individual covered the camera with what appeared to be sticky notes, and then spent long periods of time inserting multiple cards into the machine to withdraw cash. The bank records showed approximately 204 transactions (on 45 different days) and approximately $66,880, in withdrawals from 41 different cards from February 2014 to September 2014.
ATM videos and photos show that Louis-Jacques was the person utilizing the ATM in approximately 24 of these instances, which accounted for over 100 different transactions using approximately 26 different cards. Louis-Jacques often withdrew funds from some of the same cards multiple times on each ATM visit. The cards were prepaid cards that allow low to moderate-income families the opportunity to load their tax refunds onto these prepaid cards.
Ninety-nine (99) tax returns were filed requesting refunds totaling $378,688, where the refund was directed onto the cards. The tax returns were filed using the same IRS Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN), and the EFIN was registered to Louis-Jacques. Law enforcement interviewed some of the victims whose identities were used for the filing of federal tax returns that directed associated tax refunds to the prepaid cards. None of these individuals knew Louis-Jacques or authorized this activity.
On August 1, 2014, Louis-Jacques was the passenger in a vehicle stopped by law enforcement in Georgia for travelling at a high rate of speed. During a vehicle search, law enforcement found multiple phones, a laptop, a black wallet with Louis-Jacques’s identification card and a prepaid card issued in another individual’s name. Behind the glove box was a folder containing numerous printed screenshots of personal identifying information (approximately 200 names and social security numbers) that appeared to be a customer list from tax software.
After the defendant was arrested on September 21, 2017, he admitted his participation in the scheme and that he was the only one who filed taxes from that EFIN.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the USSS. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cynthia R. Wood.