Miami-Dade Resident Pleads Guilty in Stolen Identity Tax Fraud Scheme Involving Approximately 1,288 Debit Cards Containing More Than $1 Million in Tax Refunds
A Miami-Dade County resident pled guilty for his participation in a stolen identity tax fraud scheme involving approximately 1,288 debit cards containing more than $1 million in tax refunds.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and John E. Brooks, Chief, Sunrise Police Department, made the announcement that Yasmany Lopez, 28, pled guilty to one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) on May 3, 2016.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 8, 2016 before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom. At sentencing, Lopez faces a maximum statutory sentence of ten years in prison for the access device charge, and a mandatory term of two years’ imprisonment, consecutive to any other prison term, for the aggravated identity theft charge.
According to court documents, in early 2012, individuals in Colombia negotiated with a confidential source (CS) to rent an airplane that would be used to transport controlled substances from Colombia to Honduras. As part of these negotiations, the individuals arranged delivery of $500,000 to the CS as payment to use the airplane. The CS received an initial payment of $170,000, and defendant Lopez contacted the CS to arrange delivery of the remaining $330,000. After Lopez met with the CS, officers stopped Lopez in his car. Lopez gave consent to search the vehicle, and the officers located two boxes containing $330,000 in cash, approximately 197 Turbo Tax debit cards and 1,035 Green Dot debit cards each bearing different individual’s names, mail addressed to several different individuals, and ATM receipts.
During a subsequent search of Lopez’s residence, law enforcement found an additional 48 Turbo Tax debit cards, 8 Green Dot debit cards, and numerous Turbo Tax mailing envelopes and cardholder agreements. The IRS determined that the 245 Turbo Tax cards found between Lopez’s car and residence had been loaded with approximately $1,071,188 in federal income tax refunds. The IRS identified the tax returns associated with fifteen of the seized debit cards. The individuals named on these tax returns are all residents of Puerto Rico, but the individuals did not authorize anyone to file these tax returns or to use their personal information.
Lopez admitted that he removed cash from the debit cards at ATMs in exchange for a 2% commission. He also recruited individuals who allowed Lopez to use their mailing addresses to receive the debit cards, in exchange for $100 per card. A portion of the $330,000 he was to deliver to the CS came from the debit cards in his possession.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the DEA, and the Sunrise Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared M. Strauss.