Two Broward County Return Preparers Sentenced to Prison in Stolen Identity Tax Fraud and Check Cashing Schemes
Two Broward County return preparers were sentenced for their participation in stolen identity tax fraud and treasury check cashing schemes.
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 Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Peterson Jerome, 37, of Margate, and Oldy Elisee, 42, of Miramar, were sentenced to 24 months, and 18 months in prison, respectively, to be followed by one year of supervised release, and were ordered to pay joint and several restitution in the amount of $274,425.05. The defendants previously pled guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).
According to court documents, Jerome and Elisee operated a tax preparation business called Freedom Tax Plus Multi Services, Inc. in Tamarac, Florida. From February 19 to April 13, 2011, the defendants filed fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS claiming $274,425.05 in fraudulent refunds using another individual’s Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN). The other individual admitted that he allowed the defendants to use his PTIN and EFIN to file fraudulent tax returns containing victims' personal identifying information in exchange for 35% of the preparation fees of the fraudulent tax returns. Jerome and Elisee also prepared and submitted falsified Forms W-2 with many of the fraudulent tax returns.
Jerome cashed the fraudulent refunds (minus tax preparation and other fees) at a check cashing store called American Quick Cash (AQC) using fraudulent Florida Driver’s Licenses. In a separate but related case, it was determined that AQC’s owners were cashing fraudulent tax refund checks arising out of fraudulent tax refund filings containing stolen identities and that the owners received 25 to 50 percent of the checks value to negotiate the stolen checks. Jerome was identified as a “middle man” participating in this scheme at AQC to cash stolen checks.
Later in their scheme, Jerome and Elisee directed the IRS to mail the treasury checks to various addresses, and Jerome and Elisee cashed the checks at AQC.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the USSS. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia E. Shick.