Two Florida Men convicted in $3.3 million tax refund fraud scheme

Two men were charged in a tax refund ploy relating to a massive identity theft scheme this past October.

On October 5, 2012, Charlton Escarmant, 29, of Miami and Arthy Icart, 25 of North Miami were charged in a five-count federal indictment aimed at their involvement in the scam.

In excess of three thousand names were found on Escarmant’s computer which was stolen from the Tallahassee Community College’s financial aid office; it was revealed when evidence was presented during court testimony.

The swindle was initiated when Escarmant used the stolen identification information to file tax returns. He also fashioned bogus W-2 forms in his own name with fabricated employment material. His personal W-2 deceptively demonstrated that he worked as a veterinarian at the Central Broward Animal Hospital. The prosecution proved that he never worked at that facility.

At the time of their arrest, Escarmant and his co-conspirator Icart criminally possessed roughly 22 pre-paid tax debit cards designated in other person’s names. They submitted roughly 400 falsified tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service, pursuing in excess of $3 million in tax refunds during the period that the scheme evolved.

In January, Icart pled guilty to charges of aggravated ID theft, conspiracy to file fraudulent tax claims, and access device fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Lenard in early April.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, late last Tuesday, it was announced by U. S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer that Escarmant was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the Internal Revenue Service, as well as one count of access device fraud. Sentencing for his part in the case has been scheduled for June 17, in front of U.S. District Judge Lenard as well. The penalty that Escarmant faces is a possible 24 year maximum sentence of incarceration based on Florida statutory guidelines.

Subsequent to Escarmant’s conviction, at the press conference held, Ferrer applauded the investigative determinations of the South Florida Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force and acknowledged a special commendation to the IRS- Criminal Investigation unit as well as the work done by the North Miami Beach Police Department He also praised and gave his thanks to Tallahassee Community College for their help and support during the course of the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elina Rubin-Smith and Michael B. Nadler.

Based on figures collected by the Federal Trade Commission reported cases of identity theft in the United States were led last year by the state of Florida. The city of Miami has proved to be the biggest loser with a rate of approximately 324 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents which is an incident rate that is highest in the country. The state as a whole has been attributed for 178complaints per 100,000 residents which is also the highest in the nation.

74,496 possible falsified returns filed in Miami alone resulted in excess of $280 million in fraudulent refunds; according to a report compiled last September by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Per capita, the City of Miami’s amount of false returns founded on identity theft was 46 times the national average and stolen income tax refund fraud monetary value exceeded the national average by 70 times.

It is expected that tax return identity theft in the United States will increase significantly over the next five years. A TIGTA report notes that the I.R.S. estimates it is likely that they will pay more than $21 billion in fraudulent tax refunds over that period of time.

The definition of the Federal ID Theft law as quoted from the Florida Office of the Attorney General is as follows:

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes it a federal crime when someone “knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.”

A person convicted for any of the charges listed in this article can face long prison terms, restitution, and supervised release after their period of incarceration comes to an end.

If you are being investigated for, and/or charged with any Federal charges as explained above and are looking for a criminal defense attorney who specializes in the defense of these types of cases, Mr. Cohen’s office can provide you with the skilled representation you need.

Mr. Cohen’s practice has recently expanded and he is now a partner in the prestigious law firm of McLaughlin & Stern, LLP. Through this partnership, Mr. Cohen can now lead your defense in the New York Metropolitan area in addition to the Broward, Dade, or Palm Beach County areas as well as all other jurisdictions throughout the state of Florida
Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer rated AV by Martindale Hubbel (pre-eminent) and a “Super Lawyer” recognized as being in the top 5% of his specialized field (criminal trial law) among Florida lawyers. He is considered a specialist by the Florida Bar in his field. Mr. Cohen has tried scores of cases over his 35 year career and is a member of the Florida and New York Bars. He practices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, among other counties. He is also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh and Second Circuit.

Mr. Cohen is also listed in the 2013 edition of “Best Lawyers in America“.

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