Two South Florida Residents Sentenced to Prison Terms for Stolen Identity and Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Two defendants involved in a stolen identity and tax refund fraud scheme were sentenced to federal prison terms by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke. The scheme involved using stolen identities to file fraudulent income tax returns that falsely claimed refunds.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. De Palma, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Maurice Marcellus, 37, of Miami, Florida, received a prison term of 60 months and three years of supervised release. Ludrick Joseph, 38, of North Miami Beach, Florida, received a prison term of 48 months and three years of supervised release. Both defendants are jointly responsible for paying $563,210 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
A federal grand jury indicted Marcellus and Joseph on February 14, 2019. They pled guilty on November 13, 2019.
According to court documents, Joseph worked for Capital Financial Management, LLC, a tax preparation business incorporated in Miami-Dade County. Marcellus was the manager and sole registered agent of the company and ran the day-to-day operations of the business. Between 2012 and 2014, Joseph and Marcellus prepared and electronically filed federal tax returns for individuals who either did not authorize Joseph or Marcellus to possess their personal identifying information or did not authorize the defendants to file returns on their behalf. Some of the returns were electronically filed under an Electronic Filing ldentification Number (EFIN) assigned to a person later determined by agents to be a victim of identity theft.
Joseph and Marcellus stored thousands of victims’ personal identifying information in electronic and physical files at Capital Financial Management, LLC. One of the lists in Joseph’s folder contained the personal identifying information of people who Joseph knew were deceased. A spreadsheet located in both Joseph’s and Marcellus's computer files contained the names, addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of over two thousand students who attended the ATI College of Health in Miami, Florida. Marcellus obtained that spreadsheet while working for the ATI College of Health as an academic advisor. He provided a copy to Joseph in order to file fraudulent tax returns using the student victims’ information.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI. She also thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shane Butland prosecuted this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Zloch is handling asset forfeiture.