Two individuals, including a former employee of the U.S. Postal Service, have been sentenced for their participation in an identity theft tax refund fraud scheme. Shawn Hawes, 34, of Miami, was sentenced to 62 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Kelly Urseles Roberts, 39, of Miami, was sentenced on May 19, 2015 to 28 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Both defendants previously pled guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft. In addition, Hawes pled guilty to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices and Roberts pled guilty to one count of theft of government property.
According to court documents, law enforcement executed a search warrant at a storage unit used by Hawes. During a search of the unit, law enforcement found, among other things, notebooks containing handwritten personal identifying information, including the social security numbers of approximately 600 individuals. In addition, law enforcement found equipment capable of creating false identification documents and credit/debit cards, and actual false identification documents and credit/debit cards. Inside one of the notebooks was the social security number of an individual who had a tax return fraudulently filed on his behalf in 2014. The refund associated with this return had been direct deposited into Hawes’s bank account. This individual did not authorize Hawes to possess or use his personally identifiable information.
Defendant Hawes was arrested for, among other things, possession of stolen tax refund checks issued by the United States Treasury Department. Following Hawes’s arrest, law enforcement began focusing on who provided the treasury checks to Hawes. Law enforcement suspected that this source was a mail carrier because Hawes had referred to the source as the “postman.” Ultimately, Roberts, who at that time was an employee of the U.S. Postal Service, met with a source on three separate occasions and sold him a total of nine treasury checks.
SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida
But what was the source of the Social Security numbers? Where did those 600 SSN come from? Inspection of available court filings does not make it totally clear.