As another tax season descends, you might want to hold onto your W-2s and 1099s a little more tightly. In 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami busted more than a dozen tax frauds using info stolen from a variety of people, including the elderly, the disabled, Marines in Afghanistan, and even a corpse.
Each case will make you want to scrub your existence from the Internet and equip your debit cards with the latest CIA-worthy encryption software. Here are the year's most egregious:
Semper infidelis: On February 9, the feds busted into Dorothy Boulin's studio apartment in Miami and found several lists with the names, birth dates, and social security numbers of dozens of Marines serving in Afghanistan. A month earlier, Boulin had used the information to obtain tax refund checks. Turns out she got the data from the Marines' fellow unit member, 23-year-old Jobson Cenor. The day of the raid, the feds spied on a conversation between Boulin and Cenor as he talked about splitting up the loot. Both pleaded guilty. Boulin received 70 months in prison, and Cenor got 57.
Miami's Scummiest Tax Scams of 2012
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Dirty laundry man: On October 4, law enforcement officials raided Frantz Auguste's dry-cleaning business in North Miami Beach to find a locked room packed with handwritten notes containing stolen personal info from more than 100 people and corresponding fake tax returns. Many of the victims were elderly folks at a nearby assisted living facility. Auguste recently pleaded guilty to two felonies.
Information jackers: Between April and October 2011, 18-year-old Carlos Orozco volunteered at a Pembroke Pines social security office where he helped himself to social security applications that he later sold to Jean LaFrance, a 28-year-old from North Miami. LaFrance filed false tax returns using the stolen info. LaFrance and Orozco are awaiting trial.
Enterprising law clerk: While working for a North Miami law firm, 28-year-old Rodney Saintfleur accessed LexisNexis, an online proprietary database, to steal information about more than 26,000 people. He provided the list to his co-conspirators, who filed dozens of fake returns. On November 27, Saintfleur pleaded guilty to three felonies.
Personal foul penalty: William Joseph once starred on the University of Miami football team and played in the NFL. Now he's a tax-return scam artist. The feds watched him cash 13 ill-gotten refund checks totaling $70,000 at a North Miami financial services store between February and April. He pleaded guilty August 31 and was sentenced to two years in prison.