The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has published a document highlighting charges against eight individuals for their participation in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy that involved hacking and tax fraud.
US attorney Roger B. Handberg announced the partial unsealing of the indictment on Tuesday, charging Andi Jacques, Monika Shauntel Jenkins, Louis Noel Michel, Jeff Jordan Propht-Francisque, Dickenson Elan, Michael Jean Poix, Vladimyr Cherelus and Louisaint Jolteus with RICO conspiracy.
Jacques, Poix, Jenkins and Michel have additionally been charged with wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft and now face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the RICO conspiracy count.
The four individuals also face a maximum penalty of 20 more years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy count and a consecutive two years’ imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft count.
According to documents seen by the court, the group, alongside other conspirators, banded together to engage in a sophisticated cybercrime and tax fraud scheme.
Jenkins, Michel, Propht-Francisque, Cherelus and RICH4EVER4430 – a now-deceased member of the gang – had purchased server credentials on the dark web for the computer servers of Certified Public Accounting (CPA) and tax preparation firms across the country.
They then allegedly used those server credentials to remotely infiltrate computers and steal the tax returns of thousands of taxpayers who were clients of those CPA and tax preparation firms.
After the theft, the individuals would have partnered with Jacques, Elan, Poix, Jolteus and others to create a large enterprise they used to file thousands of false tax returns in the names of more than 9000 identity theft victims.
Further, to make the businesses look more legitimate, the group opened bank accounts in the names of these fraudulent tax businesses to receive fake “tax preparer fees.”
Some of the participants in the conspiracy had also “hijacked” the IRS-issued identification numbers of CPA and tax preparation firms and utilized those identification numbers to file scores of additional false tax returns.
Altogether, the US Attorney’s Office has said the enterprise claimed more than $36m in false tax refunds over roughly four years. The actual loss amount is still being calculated but is estimated at $4m.
The indictment comes roughly a year after the US imprisoned two men from Eastern Europe after they pleaded guilty to RICO charges.
Leave a Reply