Two Miami Dade County Residents Charged in Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme Involving Deceased and Other Individuals’ Personal Identifying Information
Two Miami Dade County residents were charged for their participation in an identity theft tax fraud scheme using deceased 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), Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and J. Scott Dennis, Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department (NMBPD), made the announcement.
Joshua Chikudo, 40, and Curtis Joseph, a/k/a “CJ,” 36, both of Miami Dade, were each charged, by indictment, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Chikudo was also charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to allegations contained in the court documents, Joseph met with an undercover IRS agent who provided the defendant with five IRS-controlled identities, consisting of fictitious personal identification information (“PII”) - names, social security numbers, and dates of birth - to be used by a tax preparer in order to file fraudulent federal tax returns. During a separate meeting, the undercover agent gave Chikudo seven additional IRS-controlled identities that he intended to include in fraudulent tax return filings. Chikudo asked the undercover if he could obtain a business bank account for the purpose of depositing the fraudulent tax refunds into that account to avoid detection. The defendants, undercover agent and another undercover partner agreed to split all of the tax refunds equally amongst themselves. The undercover agent provided Chikudo with IRS-controlled bank account information to be included on the fraudulent tax returns. The defendants caused six fraudulent federal income tax returns to be filed. The filings designated the IRS-controlled bank account as the intended recipient of the fraudulent refunds.
Furthermore, according to the allegations, between April and August of 2013, the defendants filed thirty-two fraudulent federal income tax returns using the IRS-controlled identities, to request refunds totaling $197,688. Twenty-one of the returns were joint returns that included the PII of deceased individuals.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of twenty years in prison for each count of conspiracy and the wire fraud charges. Chikudo is also facing and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term of imprisonment, for the aggravated identity theft charge.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, ICE-HSI and NMBPD. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia E. Shick.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl. 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.