Two defendants involved in a stolen identity and tax refund fraud scheme were sentenced to federal prison terms yesterday in the Southern District of Florida. One defendant was sentenced to 5 years in prison; the other to 2 years in prison. Both defendants are jointly responsible for paying $563,210 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
The scheme involved using stolen identities to file fraudulent income tax returns that falsely claimed refunds. According to court documents, both defendants worked for a tax preparation business incorporated in Miami-Dade County. Between 2012 and 2014, the two are alleged to have prepared and electronically filed federal tax returns for individuals who either did not authorize the defendants to possess their personal identifying information or did not authorize them 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.
The defendants stored thousands of victims’ personal identifying information in electronic and physical files. One of the lists contained the personal identifying information of people who were known by the defendants to be deceased. A spreadsheet located in computer files contained the names, addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of over two thousand college students that was also used to file fraudulent tax returns.