Two Miami-Dade County residents were sentenced to prison terms for their participation in a stolen identity tax fraud scheme based on information discovered while they were boarding a flight at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Phillip Collins, 29, of Miami Gardens, was sentenced to 25 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Godfrey Teekah, Jr., 28, also of Miami Gardens, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Both defendants were also ordered to pay restitution. Collins and Teekah previously pled guilty to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3) and 2, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1) and 2.
According to court documents, the defendants were stopped while attempting to board a flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in February 2013. Teekah was found in possession of nine debit cards embossed with names other than his own and $4,365 in U.S. currency. Collins was in possession of a debit card in someone else’s name. Two computers were also found in the defendants’ possession. A search of Teekah’s computer revealed photographs of handwritten notes containing personal identification information (PII), IRS employer identification numbers, and IRS website access logs. A search of Collins’ computer revealed temporary internet files for “get my prepaid card,” “irs.gov” and “gfx-prepaid-cards.” A search of Teekah’s bag revealed three additional debit cards, along with manila envelopes containing hundreds of individuals’ PII including names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. In total, the defendants unlawfully possessed PII belonging to over three hundred individuals. Both Teekah and Collins were aware that false tax returns would be filed using the PII and that the debit cards were used to obtain the fraudulent tax refunds.
SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida