Identity Thieves Arrested for Stealing Money from Bank Accounts and Filing False Tax Returns
HOUSTON – Six people have been taken into custody following the return of a 32-count indictment alleging wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, theft of public money and conspiracy to do so as well as aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Perrye Turner of the FBI and Special Agent in Charge D. Richard Goss of the IRS - Criminal Investigation (CI).
James Michael Curtis Johnson, 31, Donald Ray Perry, 26, Enitra Shante Pickett, 28, and D’angela Devonne Domio, 26, all of Houston; Joshua Jacquez Britton, 28, of Richmond; and Joseph Edward Johnson, 44, of Katy, were taken into custody today. They are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson at 2:00 p.m. today.
A federal grand jury returned the indictment Oct. 26, 2016, which was unsealed upon the arrests today. That indictment alleges two schemes - a conspiracy to steal money from bank accounts and a conspiracy involving the filing of false tax returns and aggravated identity theft.
James Johnson, Joseph Johnson, Pickett and Joshua Britton allegedly conspired with themselves and others to steal money from bank accounts by posing as accountholders, creating fake bank accounts online and then transferring money from victim bank accounts or home equity lines of credit. According to the indictment, these four defendants stole money before the fraud could be detected and the funds frozen.
All six are charged with conspiring to file false tax returns and claiming refunds to which they were not entitled. The indictment alleges that once the fraudulent refunds were paid, the conspirators drained the money before it could be frozen. As part of this conspiracy, the indictment also alleges they each engaged in aggravated identity theft by using victims' identification without authorization to commit these offenses.
The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud each carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, while a conviction for theft of public money is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. Each defendant also faces a maximum of five years in federal prison upon conviction of the conspiracy. Each conviction also carries a possible $250,000 fine.
The FBI Houston Cyber Task Force and IRS-CI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Houston Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.