North Miami Man Sentenced To Prison For Identity Theft And Tax Refund Scheme
Elderly people often lament that the current generation of young men tends not to embrace the 9-to-5 workday the way that their fathers and grandfathers did. For reasons too complex to factor into the average grandparents’ grump session, salaried jobs are the exception rather than the rule for men in their 20s. Some guys are pursuing higher education indefinitely, if only to put off the day when the payments on their student loans start to come due. Others are just scraping by in the gig economy, whether or not they earn enough money for the IRS to require them to file an income tax return. There may also be a few guys holed up in the spare bedrooms of their parents’ houses (there are no basements in South Florida), consuming endless amounts of frivolous, or even hateful, web content. The defendant in this week’s news story does not fit any of those descriptions. In fact, by the time he was 29, he had collected more than $400,000 in tax returns, but that was before he was convicted of identity theft. Here, our Miami white collar crimes defense lawyer explains how a North Miami man gained possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars by filing fraudulent tax returns and how the scheme eventually unraveled.
The Charges: Aggravated Identity Theft, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, and Possession of Unauthorized Access Devices
The first time Wesly Divers of North Miami filed an income tax return for someone other than himself, he was only 20 years old, an age when most people do not earn enough money for the IRS to bother asking us to report it. He did this in connection with a group of other young men. They would find out the legal names, birthdates, and social security numbers of victims who were unlikely to notice that their information was being used without their consent, such as elderly and infirm people. Divers and his co-conspirators then used the information to file income tax returns on behalf of the victims and to have their tax refund money sent to bank accounts controlled by Divers.
The scheme worked so well that, when Divers became a father at the age of 22, he could easily provide financially for his daughter through his illegal activities. He even continued his participation in the identity theft scheme after investigators entered his house on 131st Street and searched his computer hard drive. Divers kept meticulous records of his activities, including which of the documents he submitted contained which pieces of illegally obtained information, and which money went to which bank account. By the time he got caught at the age of 29, he had enriched himself by $454,121 in other people’s tax refunds.
The Sentence: Three Years in Prison, Followed by Supervised Release
Divers was taken into federal custody in 2021 when he received charges of aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and possession of at least 15 unauthorized access devices. In this case, an “access device” refers to another person’s identifying information, specifically the information that Divers used to file fraudulent income tax returns on behalf of the victims and to obtain tax refunds.
Divers pleaded guilty to the charges, and in September 2021, he received a sentence of 38 months in prison, followed by three months of supervised release. Divers must also pay back the $54,121 to the victims as restitution. One of Divers’ co-conspirators, Rony Dorismond, 28, also pleaded guilty. Dorismond’s sentence is 25 months in prison, also followed by three years of supervised release. The Miami Herald website did not say how many other people have been arrested in connection with the scheme and whether they have entered pleas.
Is Identity Theft a Symptom of Addiction?
Divers mentioned in his sentencing memorandum that his actions were not motivated by a desire to harm people; he had never been convicted of any other crime. Furthermore, he had been a consistent presence in his daughter’s life and had always taken an active role in her care. Divers explained that, since age 18, he had been addicted to alcohol and Xanax.
For several years, courts have taken into account that drug crimes are often symptoms of addiction rather than malicious acts and have chosen remedies that would enable the defendants to achieve sobriety. Increasingly, courts sometimes also consider financial crimes by people struggling with substance abuse in a similar light. You may not go to drug court if you get charged with identity theft, but it could be the first step toward getting the addiction treatment you need.
Contact Us Today for Help
A Miami white collar crime lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for identity theft or conspiracy to defraud the United States. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo for help today.