Palm Beach County Resident Pleads Guilty in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Conspiracy Involving Students and Other Individuals’ Personal Identifying Information
A Palm Beach County resident pled guilty for his participation in a stolen identity tax refund fraud conspiracy involving students and other individuals’ personal identifying information (PII).
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), and Terry L. Rhodes, Executive Director, Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), made the announcement.
Oniel Winston Scarlett, 28, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, to retain and conceal monies stolen from the United States, and to commit identity theft, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Sentencing is scheduled for September 30, 2016 before U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra. At sentencing, Scarlett faces a maximum of five years imprisonment for the conspiracy charge, a maximum of twenty years imprisonment for the wire fraud 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, Scarlett and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained and exchanged amongst themselves the PII of other individuals, filed fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS using the stolen PII, and directed fraudulent refunds to be deposited onto pre-paid debit cards in the names of other individuals using the stolen PII.
The defendant was in possession of stolen PII during a traffic stop on September 20, 2011. During the traffic stop, the FHP trooper conducted a consent search of Scarlett’s vehicle and found 92 Wal-Mart pre-paid debit cards; printouts of hundreds of peoples’ PII; pre-paid debit card information and money amounts for the cards; more than fifty Palm Beach County School Board’s mainframe database printouts with students’ names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth; two laptop/notebook computers with accessories; two memory sticks; a cell phone; and a phone book for the Belle Glade, Florida area. The trooper also found bank account information, where it was later determined that nearly $77,000 in federal tax refunds were direct deposited from fifty-two separate fraudulent tax returns filed with the IRS.
Scarlett used the PII to make fraudulent cards to sell to another individual. Scarlett earned between $1,000 to $2,000 a week, for the cards. Some of the PII was also used to file false tax returns with the IRS. On the computer, law enforcement found 228 separate login user identifications used to file false income tax returns claiming approximately $290,000.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the FHP. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton.