FL woman sentenced for role in tax refund fraud scheme involving at least 790 stolen identities
A Palm Beach County resident has been sentenced to prison for her participation in a stolen identity tax fraud scheme involving at least 790 stolen identities. I just wish they’d tell us how/where the criminals obtained the stolen identity information!
Kelli Witherspoon McIntosh, 39, of Palm Beach County, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley to 36 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release (Case No. 14-CR-80158). McIntosh was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $775,242.91.
In October 2015, McIntosh pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). McIntosh’s sentence includes a term of 12 months in prison for her participation in the conspiracy and a mandatory consecutive term of 24 months in prison, for the aggravated identity theft conviction.
Co-conspirators Latonia Verdell (Case No. 14-CR-80158) and Starling Willis (Case No. 15-CR-80119), both of Palm Beach County, were previously convicted of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 1349. Verdell was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1); possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3); theft of government property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641; and making a false statement to a federal government agency, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2) and sentenced in January 2016.
Verdell was sentenced to 94 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $947,296.81. Verdell’s sentence included a concurrent term of 70 months in prison for each count of conviction for theft of government money, felon in possession, and unauthorized access devices; and a concurrent sentence of 5 years in prison for the false statement conviction. In addition, Verdell was sentenced to a mandatory term of 24 months in prison, to run consecutive to all other sentences, for the aggravated identity theft conviction.
Willis was sentenced to 33 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered jointly and severally liable for restitution, with Verdell, in the amount of $32,4551. Willis was sentenced to 9 months in prison for the conspiracy, to be followed by a mandatory consecutive term of 24 months in prison for the aggravated identity theft conviction.
According to court documents and the defendants’ testimony during the sentencing hearings, Verdell, Willis and co-defendant McIntosh, participated in a widespread stolen identity refund fraud scheme involving at least 790 stolen identities and personal identification information (PII). The PII was used to file fraudulent on-line income tax returns, with those refunds being directed to various bank accounts created and maintained by Verdell, McIntosh and Willis, as well as to reloadable debit cards. Identity theft victims whose personal information was used for this scheme spanned from Indian River, Highlands, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach Counties, as well as persons outside the State of Florida. This scheme resulted in the submission to the IRS of more than 590 fraudulent returns in the names of other persons, seeking approximately $1.5 million in fraudulent income tax refunds.
Court documents also indicate that on September 1, 2010, while Verdell was receiving unauthorized income from the filing of fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS, she received a housing assistance payment funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), while knowing she was not entitled to receive such a payment. On September 24, 2013, Verdell submitted an application for enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also referred to as ‘food stamps.’ In her application, Verdell knowingly stated that her only monthly income was $715, without any other source of income, when she was in fact receiving significant income from fraudulent tax refund payments.
Court documents also indicate that evidence of the stolen PII, a list of bank accounts belonging to Willis, information regarding accounts which received fraudulent refunds, and a stolen .38 caliber pistol, were found in Verdell’s home during the execution of a federal search warrant.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI, HUD-OIG, and USDA OIG. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida