Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving Student Financial Services Accounts
The final defendant pled guilty in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme involving student financial services accounts.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Delany De-Leon Colon, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Emmanuel Avrilien, 23, of Miami, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and one count of theft of government money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. The defendant was remanded into custody after his guilty plea was accepted by the Court.
Co-defendants Andy Lamour, 22, Tamica Smith, 26, Marie Joseph, 25, and Gerrey Cherrelus, 22, all of Miami, each previously pled guilty to the same two charges, and Sandy Jean-Louis, 21, of Miami, previously pled guilty to the conspiracy charge. All of the co-defendants have been sentenced. As part of their plea agreements, Avrilien, Lamour, Smith, Joseph, Cherrelus and Jean-Louis agreed to pay restitution in the amounts of $98,481.00, $26,172.00, $17,395.00, $22.399.00, $13,242.00, and $28,561.63, respectively.
According to court documents, Lamour, Cherrelus and Jean-Louis were students at Miami Dade College; Avrilien, Lamour, Smith and Joseph were employees of a Target Store. From April 17, 2012 to January 24, 2013, the defendants participated in a tax fraud scheme where the defendants received fraudulently obtained tax refunds in their personal Higher One, Inc. and/or Citibank accounts. Avrilien paid the other defendants for allowing their accounts to receive the stolen tax refunds, and directed Lamour to recruit other Target Store employees and Miami Dade College students to participate in the scheme.
Court documents also state that Avrilien and unknown co-conspirators filed a total of 145 fraudulent tax returns which directed the tax refunds to be deposited into one of the other defendant’s accounts. After the tax refunds were deposited into a defendant’s account, that defendant withdrew the money from the account at ATMs or through counter withdrawals.
Sentencing for Avrilien is scheduled for May 19, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. before Chief Judge K. Michael Moore. At sentencing, the Avrilien faces up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, and up to ten years in prison for the theft of government money charge.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to USPIS, IRS-CI, and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples.