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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Two Broward County Residents Plead Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme Involving the Use of Unauthorized Debit Card Account Numbers

Two Broward County residents pled guilty for their involvement in an identity theft tax fraud scheme involving the trafficking in, use, and possession of unauthorized debit card account numbers. 

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), George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Dan Giustino, Chief, Pembroke Pines Police Department, made the announcement.  

Wilna Joseph, 36, and Maraldy Necker Jean, 39, both of Broward County, each pled guilty to one count of trafficking in and using one or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).

According to court documents, fraudulent tax returns were filed using the names and Social Security numbers of individuals without their permission.  On February 6, 2014, the defendants drove to a Wells Fargo Bank in Pembroke Pines and Joseph attempted to withdraw cash from the ATM using a debit card encoded with an account number belonging to one of the tax return victims.  The defendants then drove to a Citibank, located in Pembroke Pines, where Joseph made four withdrawals, totaling approximately $1,200.00, using a debit card encoded with an account number belonging to another one of the tax return victims. 

At the time of their arrest, on February 6, 2014, the defendants had fifteen unauthorized debit cards registered in the names of other persons. The debit cards had been funded with fraudulently obtained federal income tax refunds totaling approximately $76,249.20.

Joseph and Jean are scheduled to be sentenced on November 18, 2016 before United States District Judge William J. Zloch.  At sentencing, the defendants face up to ten years in prison for the access device charge, and two years’ imprisonment, consecutive to any other prison term, for the aggravated identity theft charge.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the FBI, and the Pembroke Pines Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daya Nathan and Jonathan K. Osborne and Special Assistant United States Attorney Tyler Jett. 

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.

Topic: 
Identity Theft
Updated September 14, 2016