Miami-Dade County Resident Sentenced to 64 Months for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
A Miami-Dade County resident was sentenced to 64 months in prison for his participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme. Nick Rickey Choute’s sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, Choute was ordered to pay $191,280 in restitution, a $500 special assessment, and a forfeiture money judgment of $452,006.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, 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.
Nick Rickey Choute, 24, of Miami, previously pled guilty to charges relating to his participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $400,000, in fraudulent refund claims to the IRS for tax years 2014 and 2015. Specifically, Choute pled guilty, without a plea agreement, to all charges in the indictment: one count of fraudulent use of access devices, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2); one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(3); and three counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1). Choute pled guilty after a jury was selected, but before jury addresses commenced.
According to documents filed with the court, from approximately January 2015 through March 2016, in Miami-Dade County, Choute used stolen identities, including the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of hundreds of South Florida residents born in the 1990s, to file more than 150 tax returns with the IRS. These fraudulent returns sought more than $450,000, in refunds. Choute directed the refunds to be deposited into bank accounts and prepaid debit card accounts that he opened in the names of other identity theft victims. He then withdrew the fraudulently obtained funds. In addition, when the IRS conducted a search of Choute’s home in March 2016, more than 2,500 victims’ identities were found in notebooks recovered from Choute’s bedroom, and personal identifying information of additional victims was also discovered on Choute’s iPad.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa H. Miller and Quinshawna Landon.