Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 18, 2016
North Miami Man Sentenced To Five Years For Identity Fraud And Tax Fraud Scheme
Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge John Antoon II today sentenced Joseph A. Johns to 5 years in federal prison for possession of 15 or more fraudulent debit cards and aggravated identity fraud. He pleaded guilty on October 19, 2015.
According to court documents, in February 19, 2012, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped Johns’s vehicle because of an active arrest warrant. During the stop, Johns gave deputies consent to search his car, during which they found ledgers containing Personal Identifying Information (PII), including the Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and bank account numbers of hundreds of individuals. Deputies also found approximately 197 debit cards in the names of various individuals, some of whose PII was contained in the ledgers. Further investigation revealed that Johns was using the victim information to file fraudulent tax returns and receive tax refunds in the victims’ names. Johns arranged for these tax refunds to be deposited onto prepaid debit cards in his possession.
Through this scheme, Johns obtained at least $158,425.65 in fraudulent federal tax refunds. He also received at least $15,914.70 in fraudulent state tax refunds from the state of Georgia.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent S. Chiu.