Two Houston Residents Sentenced in Identity Theft Scheme
HOUSTON – Two Houston individuals have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick along with Special Agent in Charge Steven Grell of the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG) and Special Agent in Charge Rick Goss of IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI). Trenecia Moore, 34, and Michael Muniz, 28, pleaded guilty Oct. 24, 2017, and Jan. 8, 2018, respectively.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas sentenced Moore to 23 months in prison, while Muniz was sentenced to 12 months and one day. Moore and Muniz will also serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution, jointly and severely, in the amounts of $716,054 and $361,597, respectively.
The pair were indicted in June 2017. Moore filed false tax claims and unemployment insurance claims with identifying information of others. She then loaded the funds from those false claims onto debit cards and had them delivered to false addresses. Muniz assisted her in retrieving the cards and withdrawing the funds.
“Moore and Muniz defrauded the State of Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund and the IRS by conspiring with others to steal the personally identifiable information of unwitting individuals in order to file fraudulent UI claims and federal tax returns,” said Grell. “We will continue to work with our federal and state law enforcement partners to safeguard the UI system from those who exploit these benefit programs.”
“The sentencing of Moore and Muniz brings justice and hopefully some closure for the victims of this stolen identity fraud scheme,” said Goss. “IRS-CI special agents are dedicated to stopping identity thieves like these and will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to put an end to these schemes.”
Moore and Muniz were permitted to remain on bond and surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
DOL-OIG, IRS-CI and Texas Workforce Commission conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Andrew Leuchtmann and AUSA Carolyn Ferko prosecuted the case.