Two Miami-Dade County Residents Pled Guilty to Possessing Stolen Personal Identification Information at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Two Miami-Dade County residents pled guilty today for their participation in a stolen identity tax fraud scheme based on information discovered while they were boarding a flight at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
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 Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), made the announcement.
Godfrey Teekah, Jr., 28, and Phillip Collins, 29, both of Miami Gardens, each pled guilty to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3) and 2, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1) and 2.
According to court documents, the defendants were stopped while attempting to board a flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in February 2013. Teekah was found in possession of nine debit cards embossed with names other than his own, and $4,365 in U.S. currency. Collins was in possession of one debit card in someone else’s name. Two computers were also found in the defendants’ possession. A search of Teekah’s computer revealed photographs of handwritten notes containing personal identification information (PII), IRS employer identification numbers, and IRS website access logs. A search of Collins’ computer revealed temporary internet files for “get my prepaid card,” “irs.gov” and “gfx-prepaid-cards.” A search of Teekah’s bag produced three additional debit cards, along with manila envelopes containing hundreds of individuals’ PII including names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. In total, the defendants unlawfully possessed PII belonging to over three hundred individuals. Both Teekah and Collins were aware that false tax returns would be filed using the PII and that the debit cards were used to obtain the fraudulent tax refunds.
Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for October 9, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. before United States District Judge James I. Cohn. The defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of ten years in prison for the possession of unauthorized access devices charge, 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 and the BSO. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Katz.
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.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. 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.