A Miami Dade College student was sentenced to 51 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $29,289, for his participation in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme involving student financial services accounts.
Smith Jean, 23, previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and one count of theft of government property or money.
According to court documents, from October 15, 2012 to September 23, 2013, Jean participated in a tax fraud scheme with co-defendant Beatrice Simeon, 22, and other co-conspirators. During the course of the scheme, the co-conspirators received fraudulently obtained U.S. Department of Treasury tax refunds into their personal Higher One, Inc. (HOI) accounts. HOI provided financial services to colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Miami Dade College in the Southern District of Florida.
Jean opened his HOI account when he enrolled as a student at Miami Dade College. Jean and his co-conspirators set up their HOI accounts to allow for the receipt of the fraudulently obtained federal income tax refunds. After the stolen tax refunds were deposited into Jean’s HOI account, the defendant withdrew the fraudulently obtained monies for his own personal benefit. Jean recruited co-defendant Simeon to participate in the tax fraud scheme by offering her a financial incentive, in exchange for the deposit of stolen tax refunds into Simeon’s HOI account. Simeon agreed to participate in the tax fraud scheme and provided Jean with her HOI account number.
Jean and other unknown co-conspirators submitted thirty-eight (38) false and fraudulent tax returns, claiming $263,415 in tax refunds to be deposited into Simeon’s HOI account. Jean and the co-conspirators also submitted twenty-four (24) false and fraudulent tax returns, claiming $81,076 in tax refunds to be deposited into Jean’s HOI account.
Co-defendant Simeon previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and one count of theft of government property or money. Simeon was sentenced to five years of probation by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro.
SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southrn District of Florida