Five Defendants Plead Guilty in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving Student Financial Services Accounts
Five Miami Dade College students, three of whom were employees of Target, pled guilty for their role in stolen identity tax refund fraud.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ronald J. Verrochio, 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), George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), made the announcement.
Andy Lamour, 22, Tamica Smith, 26, Marie Joseph, 25, Gerrey Cherrelus, 22, and Sandy Jean-Louis, 21, all of Miami, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and to one count of theft of government property or money. As part of their plea agreements, Lamour, Smith, Joseph, Cherrelus and Jean-Louis agreed to pay restitution in the amounts of $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; Lamour, Smith and Joseph were employees of Target. From April 17, 2012 to January 24, 2013, the defendants participated in a tax fraud scheme with co-defendant Emmanuel Avrilien, 22, of Miami, where the defendants received fraudulently obtained tax refunds in their personal Higher One, Inc. and Citibank accounts. Defendant Avrilien paid the other defendants for allowing their accounts to receive the stolen tax refunds, and paid Lamour for recruiting Joseph and other individuals to participate in the scheme.
Court documents also state that defendant Avrilien and unknown co-conspirators filed a total of 139 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 the defendants is scheduled for March 26, 2015. At sentencing, the defendants face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, and up to ten years in prison for the theft of government property charge.
Avrilien is scheduled to commence trial on May 4, 2015.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to USPIS, IRS-CI, FBI, and ICE-HSI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples.
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 http://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 http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.