Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


02:20 PM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Products and Releases

Palm Beach County Resident Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for his Role in Massive Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Lukner Blanc, 33, of Royal Palm Beach, was sentenced to 192 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay joint and several restitution in the amount of $733,563 for his role in a massive identity theft tax refund fraud scheme. 

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Ric Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office, and Amos Rojas, Jr., United States Marshals, United States Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force, made the announcement.

After a ten day trial, Blanc and co-defendant Benoit Placide, a/k/a “Snow,” a/k/a “Mario,” 27, of West Palm Beach, were each convicted of conspiracy to receive, conceal or retain monies stolen from the United States, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Blanc was also convicted of receiving, concealing and retaining monies stolen from the United States.  On October 5, 2015, co-conspirator Benoit Placide was sentenced to 120 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay joint and several restitution in the amount of $742,955.

At trial, the government presented evidence that the federal investigation began with the arrest of Blanc, on October 29, 2012, for an unrelated state crime. Agents recovered four bank debit cards out of Blanc’s pants pocket, all in the names of other persons.  While incarcerated in the state case, Blanc made recorded calls from the Palm Beach County Jail.  Based on information obtained during the course of the monitored and recorded jail calls, law enforcement officials obtained a state search warrant for the residence of co-conspirator Jean Juste, a/k/a “Junior,” a/k/a “Shorty,” 26, of West Palm Beach.  Inside Juste’s residence, agents discovered items used to facilitate identity theft crimes, including computers, more than sixty-nine Western Union debit cards, lists of employers, and the names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth of various individuals.  During the course of the investigation, law enforcement learned that Blanc and Juste were associates in the identity theft fraud scheme, alongside co-conspirator Placide. 

During the course of the identity theft fraud scheme investigation federal agents obtained additional warrants to search the computers recovered from Juste’s residence.  Forensic examinations of the computers revealed that more than 1,000 fraudulent federal personal income tax returns had been filed using the operating system.  The returns were submitted over the internet to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) using TaxHawk.com and TurboTax.  Co-conspirators of the fraud scheme opened bank accounts in Florida, in order receive the fraudulently obtained federal income tax refunds. 

The co-conspirators attempted to obtain more than $1,200,000 in fraudulent, unauthorized income tax refunds.  As a result of the fraudulent scheme, the government was induced to pay out more than $730,000 in unauthorized refunds that were later determined to have been filed by the co-conspirators and not the legitimate taxpayers.  The co-conspirators received the fraudulent tax refund payments, which were sent to bank accounts and pre-paid debit cards they controlled.  After the fraudulent refunds were sent by wire transfer to the bank accounts and debit cards, the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew the funds at automatic teller machines (ATMs) and point of sale electronic terminals at various retail establishments.

Co-conspirator Jean Juste previously pled guilty to conspiracy, theft of government funds, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  On February 17, 2015, Juste was sentenced to 84 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $668,947 for his participation in the conspiracy.

Co-conspirator Shelda Phadael, 29, of Lake Worth, previously pled guilty to conspiracy and theft of government funds.  On May 29, 2015, Phadel was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $13,327.

Co-Conspirators Marie Claude, 27, of Lantana, and Marie Demesyeux, 31, of Lake Worth, previously pled guilty. On April 16, 2015, both defendants were sentenced to time served.

Co-conspirator Frank Fleuzinord, 30, of Cape Coral, is a fugitive.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the United States Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 11/19/2020
New Proposed DNS Security Features Released
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  11/19/2020
The Yellow Brick Road to Risk Management
Andrew Lowe, Senior Information Security Consultant, TalaTek,  11/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: He hits the gong anytime he sees someone click on an email link.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-25
osCommerce has XSS vulnerability via the authenticated user entering the XSS payload into the title section of newsletters.
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-25
GLPI stands for Gestionnaire Libre de Parc Informatique and it is a Free Asset and IT Management Software package, that provides ITIL Service Desk features, licenses tracking and software auditing. In GLPI before version 9.5.3, any authenticated user has read-only permissions to the planning of ever...
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-25
Nanopb is a small code-size Protocol Buffers implementation. In Nanopb before versions 0.4.4 and, decoding specifically formed message can leak memory if dynamic allocation is enabled and an oneof field contains a static submessage that contains a dynamic field, and the message being decoded...
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-25
A flaw was found in the way the spice-vdagentd daemon handled file transfers from the host system to the virtual machine. Any unprivileged local guest user with access to the UNIX domain socket path `/run/spice-vdagentd/spice-vdagent-sock` could use this flaw to perform a memory denial of service fo...
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-25
An XSS issue was found in the Shares feature of LiquidFiles before 3.3.19. The issue arises from the insecure rendering of HTML files uploaded to the platform as attachments, when the -htmlview URL is directly accessed. The impact ranges from executing commands as root on the server to retrieving se...