Miami Resident Pleads Guilty to Participation in an Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme Involving the IRS “Get Transcript” Service

A Miami resident pled guilty for his participation in an identity theft tax fraud scheme where he used stolen personal identification information (PII) to access the IRS “Get Transcript” service and obtain tax records of his identity theft victims.

Marvin Ricardo Herard, 26, of Miami, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). As part of the plea agreement, Herard agreed to restitution in the amount of $172,521. At sentencing, Herard faces a maximum statutory sentence of twenty years in prison for the wire fraud charge, a maximum statutory sentence of ten years in prison for the access device charge, and a mandatory term of two years’ imprisonment, consecutive to any other prison term, for the aggravated identity theft charge.

According to court documents, the IRS maintained a “Get Transcript” service that allowed an individual taxpayer to request and receive a transcript of their IRS tax records online, including line-by-line tax return information for prior years. To obtain access to the “Get Transcript” service, the user was required to create a user account and provide PII.

Log files from the “Get Transcript” service revealed that an email address controlled by defendant Herard attempted to access 38 different taxpayers’ accounts in “Get Transcript”, and had successfully accessed 22 accounts. Additionally, log files captured the IP addresses from which Herard’s email address was used to access the “Get Transcript” service. For the 2014 tax year, over 100 fraudulent tax returns, seeking over $500,000 in refunds, were filed from these IP addresses. The IRS paid out $172,521 in refunds on these fraudulent tax returns. Some of these fraudulent tax returns were for taxpayers whose information was accessed in the “Get Transcript” service using Herard’s email address.

Law enforcement obtained a federal search warrant for the contents of Herard’s email account. The email account contained over 1,150 unique pieces of PII, including names, dates of births, and Social Security numbers. In addition, there were hundreds of automated messages from the IRS “Get Transcript” service, indicating that Herard’s email account had been used to attempt to access numerous taxpayers’ accounts.

Herard is scheduled to be sentenced on May 10, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. before United States District Judge Darrin P. Gayles.

SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida

Update: Herard was sentenced on May 12, 2016 to 48 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $172,521 for his participation.

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