High Flying Fraud

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Fraudsters often are apprehended for one reason, then investigators delve a little deeper to find out more than they anticipated. (It’s kind of like peeling back the layers of an onion. The deeper you go, the smellier it gets.) A man who was originally apprehended for his ties to an international drug scheme also was involved in an identity theft and tax fraud scheme that actually helped fund the illegal drug operation.

A story published by the South Florida Business Journal stated that a man was caught outside of a local mall with nearly 1,300 prepaid debit cards loaded with federal income tax refunds. (He wasn’t there to shop for the latest fashions, but to meet with a source to receive instruction on where to deliver funds to rent a plane that was involved in flying drugs from Columbia to Honduras. Only the source happened to be a government informant. Oops.)

Law enforcement intercepted the fraudster in his car on the way to meet with another undercover source and found lots of debit cards that were rubber-banded and stored in binders or shopping bags. Investigators also found more cards at his home. (The fraudster had planned to use some of the debit cards, which were valued at $1.07 million, to pay $500,000 to a Drug Enforcement Agency source to rent the plane carrying controlled substances.) Further research revealed that the fraudulent tax refunds involved identities stolen from people living in Puerto Rico.

The 28-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for his role in the stolen identity tax fraud scheme and must pay almost $1 million in restitution.

Perhaps this man thought he’d be flying high with all of the money he’d make from his scam involving the stolen identity tax refund fraud and profits involved from trafficking drugs, but it looks like he is now grounded in prison for at least the next three years. (Let’s hope this short stint is enough to ground this criminal’s efforts to commit fraud in the future.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, ”Miamian gets prison time for role in identity theft fraud scheme,” published by the South Florida Business Journal on July12, 2016.

Yasmany Lopez, 28, was sentenced to 3.7 years in prison for his role in a stolen identity tax fraud scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida announced Monday.

But Lopez was first apprehended because of his alleged ties to complex international controlled substances scheme.

In addition to prison time, Lopez was ordered to pay close to $1 million in restitution for his role in the identity theft fraud scheme which involved almost 1,300 debit cards. Lopez was charged by information in April, which preceded his guilty plea.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.