CINCINNATI – A federal grand jury has charged three Florida men in a financial fraud conspiracy that allegedly involved stealing identities in order to fraudulently obtain credit, tax refunds, and COVID-19 stimulus checks. Several of the victims of their alleged scheme resided in the Southern District of Ohio.
Adesh Alvin Bissoon, 41, of Miami Beach, Fla.; Michael Jacques Joseph, 37, of Miami Beach, Fla.; and Victor Torres, 38, of Apollo Beach, Fla.; are charged with defrauding at least 11 banks.
According to the indictment, from 2012 through August 2020, the co-conspirators used the Dark Web to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) on individuals, including victims who at the time lived in the Southern District of Ohio.
As part of the conspiracy, the three defendants allegedly used the IRS’s eAuthentication service to verify that the stolen PII was accurate and therefore useful in furtherance of the fraud. After verifying the PII, the defendants allegedly filed fraudulent tax returns in the names of some of the victims, causing those victims’ tax refunds and COVID-19 stimulus checks to be deposited into bank accounts controlled by the defendants.
It is also alleged that the defendants used the victims’ information to create fraudulent Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, which they then used to open financial accounts in the victims’ names. The conspirators allegedly profited from the scheme by requesting convenience checks in high dollar amounts from the fraudulently opened accounts. Bissoon, Joseph and Torres also registered LLCs with states and the IRS in order to obtain business credit cards with higher credit limits, according to the five-count indictment.
Bissoon was initially charged by criminal complaint and released on bond in the Florida. The government later moved to revoke Bissoon’s pretrial release, alleging he had committed new crimes. On Aug. 28, United States Magistrate Judge Karen L. Litkovitz revoked Bissoon’s pretrial release after finding probable cause to believe that Bissoon had attempted to steal another $150,000 from a bank while on release by falsely claiming to be the victim of unauthorized bank transfers.
To date, agents have identified more than $1 million in suspected criminal proceeds flowing through accounts associated with Bissoon alone.
Each of the three defendants has now been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud (up to 30 years in prison), two counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution (up to 30 years in prison) and two counts of aggravated identity theft (additional two years in prison).
David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. Russell George, the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, announced the charges. Assistant United States Attorneys Julie D. Garcia and Ebunoluwa A. Taiwo are representing the United States in this case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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