Five Defendants Charged in Extensive Tax Refund and Identity Theft Fraud Scheme
Five defendants were indicted on charges stemming from their participation in an extensive tax refund and identity theft fraud scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.
Ronald Jerome Scriven, Danesa Latoya Webb, Walter Waitus Pressley, Fritznel Jacques, a/k/a “Glacier,” and Michael Dwight Brown, a/k/a “Big Mike,” were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. Defendants Scriven, Webb, Jacques, and Brown were also charged with six counts of misusing Social Security numbers, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 408(a)(8), and six counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), (c)(11) and 2.
Scriven and Pressley had their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, Scriven created various tax preparation business entities using his name, the names of co-conspirators, or the names of individuals whose identities were stolen. Scriven and Webb obtained electronic filing identification numbers (EFINs) from the IRS for the purpose of electronically submitting false tax returns. Scriven, Webb, Pressley and Jacques recruited taxpayers and obtained their personal identifying information (PII), such as their names and Social Security numbers, for the purpose of submitting false tax returns to the IRS. Without authorization, the PII of living and deceased individuals was also obtained for the same fraudulent purpose.
The indictment also alleges that Scriven, Webb and Jacques prepared and filed false 2008, 2009 and 2010 federal income tax returns claiming false refunds on behalf of the taxpayers who were recruited or whose identities they had stolen. Tax preparers’ fees and other fees totaling $700,000 were deducted from the tax refunds and were deposited into bank accounts controlled by some of the co-conspirators.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, Scriven and Webb prepared refund checks or prepaid debit cards in the names of taxpayers whose names and Social Security numbers were used to file the false tax returns. Some of the co-conspirators accompanied taxpayers, whose identities they had used to file false tax returns, to cash the refund checks. The defendants would demand a substantial portion of the proceeds obtained from those cashed checks. In the instances where the stolen identities of individuals were used to file false returns, Scriven and Webb cashed the refund checks or negotiated them for reduced values.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum of ten years in prison for the conspiracy charge, five years in prison for each count of the misusing a Social Security number, and a mandatory term of two years’ imprisonment, consecutive to any other prison term, for the aggravated identity theft charges.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lois Foster-Steers.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.