FBI arrest three former football players on allegations of ID-theft and tax-related fraud charges

The Miami Herald on May 1, 2012 released the following:

“Feds bust three former football players on ID-theft and tax-related fraud charges


Two ex-National Football League players and a former Miami high school star have been arrested by the FBI on federal charges in connection with an alleged scheme to steal people’s identities and file false tax returns in others’ names to collect thousands of dollars in refunds, according to authorities.

The two ex-NFL players charged with defrauding the federal government and ID theft are: William Joseph, a University of Miami defensive tackle drafted in the first round by the New York Giants in 2003, and Michael Bennett, a University of Wisconsin running back also drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2001.

The third defendant, Louis Gachelin, is the half-brother of Denver Broncos star Elvis Dumervil. Gachelin was a standout at Miami Jackson High and Syracuse University as a defensive lineman and signed as a free agent with the New England Patriots in 2004. But he never made the final roster. Gachelin played in 2005 for NFL Europe’s Frankfurt Galaxy.

Joseph and Gachelin grew up in Miami; Bennett was born in Milwaukee.

All three were questioned after their arrests Monday by FBI agents at the bureau’s North Miami Beach regional office. They were then transferred to the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami for court appearances Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube, according to the clerk’s office. Details of the alleged scheme are expected to be disclosed in a criminal complaint to be released later Tuesday.

FBI spokesman Mike Leverock declined to comment.

As part of a related investigation, the FBI also arrested about a half-dozen other defendants Monday.

Authorities say the latest tax-related fraud case, while unique because of the ex-NFL defendants, is yet another indication of escalating identity-theft crimes in South Florida.

In April, a Coral Springs woman pleaded guilty to stealing the identities of U.S. Marines and others in a tax-refund scheme designed to trick the Internal Revenue Service into sending her tens of thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Dorothy Boulin, 29, pleaded guilty in Miami federal court to one count each of fraud and aggravated identity theft. She faces up to 22 years in prison, but as part of her plea agreement Boulin agreed to work in an “undercover role” for the FBI that could significantly reduce her prison term.

For her scam, Boulin used an electronic IRS number — normally issued to legitimate tax preparers — to file false returns in the names of at least 14 people, including several U.S. Marines serving in Afghanistan, according to court records. The bogus returns sought more than $53,000 in refunds.

Boulin’s plea agreement cited a person identified only as “C.J.” as the supplier of the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of Marines victimized in her scam.

Crooks like Boulin have graduated from everyday credit-card fraud to stealing people’s identities such as names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers in order to rob taxpayers of refunds before they file their returns with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami.

Authorities say tax-return rackets are particularly pernicious because they harm two victims: the federal government as well as legitimate taxpayers whose identities and refunds have been stolen.

Here’s the root of the problem: Scammers have exploited a hole in the IRS electronic filing system, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The federal watchdog agency found that the IRS does not actually match tax returns to the W-2 income forms that employers file until months after the filing season ends on April 15. Employers file them at the end of February or early March, but the agency does not match them up with employees’ incomes reported on 1040 forms until June.

That’s way too late to catch identity thieves who file false returns in others’ names early in the year. What’s more, the IRS offers to download the refunds onto prepaid debit cards for speed and convenience.

Because of the relative ease, everyday criminals are moving into identity-theft rackets, using computers, the Internet and online tax services to fleece the IRS and taxpayers. The GAO reports that the number of identity theft-related fraud incidents on tax returns reached 248,000 in 2010, about five times more than in 2008.

In the past two years, the IRS has “redoubled” efforts to fight tax fraud by identity theft, according to Steven T. Miller, the IRS’s deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, who testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in March.

Miller told the panel that last year the IRS launched new software filters to flag fraudulent returns, and new procedures for handling suspect returns.

Recent federal legislation may help combat the crime.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who presided over the March hearing, has sponsored a bill that would make it a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to use someone else’s Social Security or taxpayer identification numbers to file a fraudulent return.”


Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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