Alci Bonannee of Fort Lauderdale, the ringleader of a brazen South Florida identity theft ring that sought $11.7 million worth of fraudulent income tax refunds was sentenced to more than 26 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge James Cohn sentenced Bonannee to 26 years and five months in prison and ordered her to pay more than $1.9 million in restitution.
Identity theft is the criminal act of taking another person’s identity for the purpose of obtaining credit, credit cards from banks or retailers, stealing money from a person’s existing accounts, applying for loans in the person’s name, establishing accounts with utility companies, leasing automobiles and residences, filing for bankruptcy, or even obtaining employment. Identity theft offenders also have used unsuspecting victim’s identities to commit crimes ranging from traffic infractions to major felonies.
Some common identity theft crimes include:
– Hacking into computer databases or private computers to gain financial information
– Phishing (posing as a reputable company to gain personal and financial information)
– Mail theft or dumpster-diving to obtain financial applications or information
Identity theft is not prosecuted on the same level for all offenders. For example, an individual that uses a person’s credit card once at a store and gets caught is not charged and punished in the same way that a serial offender, or an individual who gathers masses of information for use or sale. Thus, the penalty for identity theft ranges from fines and community service, to time in prison.
Tax fraud usually stems from an accusation of intentional concealment or misrepresentation of one’s financial situation in an effort to reduce the taxes one either has or increases the amount one gets back on a return. Sometimes the crime involves simply falsifying deductions, stating an incorrect income in order to fit in a certain tax bracket, under-reporting or not reporting one’s monetary gains; however, some of these crimes are as complicated as forging federal tax forms.
Both charges are different from other theft crimes in Jacksonville, as these charges, are considered by most to be a white collar crime and is investigated by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”). The Criminal Investigative Division (“CID”), the IRS’s specialized investigative unit, composed of individuals with strong accounting and financial backgrounds, is responsible for combating tax fraud.
Identity thieves transfer the information stolen into money via tax fraud. Recently, some identity thieves have impersonated the deceased, using personal information obtained from death notices, gravestones, obituaries and other sources to exploit delays between the death and the closure of the person’s accounts, banking on grieving families’ not checking the deceased’s credit after they died. Such crimes may continue for some time until the deceased’s families or the authorities notice and react to the discrepancies.
One has one choice of relief in a situation like this. One charged with a crime of this nature should contact an experienced Jacksonville identity theft and tax fraud crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected. One can either sit back and wait for the Judge to render a decision against one, or one can take charge of one’s defense and win one’s cause for freedom.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Ringleader of $11.7M identity theft and tax fraud sentenced to more than 26 years, Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel