The internet is awash in easily findable personal data and sometimes this information ends up in the hands of criminals who use it in identity theft scams.
According to The Florida Center For Investigative Reporting, two Miami-based drug dealers obtained personal information from a popular people search site for use in a tax refund scam.
According to court records from their federal criminal cases, Espere Desmond Pierre and Markentz Blanc found out about a people search site called FindMyPast.com from an associate who used the site to steal peoples’ identities.
Text messages show Blanc and Pierre discussing FindMyPast.com and sharing information on how to use the site to get personal information on people.
The drug duo reportedly used the site’s “search all records” tool to find full names, social security numbers, birth dates and death dates for people. This personal information was then used to file for fraudulent federal tax refunds from the IRS.
On November 2013, the FBI raided Blanc’s home, where they found 56 grams of crack cocaine, 22 grams of pot, a stolen firearm, $9K in cash as well as documents that pointed to his involvement in tax fraud and identity theft.
In addition, the FBI found a personal information on hundreds of people whose identities were being used in the tax refund scam.
In 2014, Espere Desmond Pierre and Markentz Blanc were indicted along with six other people for a drug trafficking ring that sold crack cocaine in the Little Haiti area of Miami, Florida.
According to prosecutors, they also dabbled in identity theft to collect fake tax refunds from the IRS.
On August 18th, Espere Desmond Pierre pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including drug trafficking, firearm possession, wire fraud conspiracy and identity theft charges.
Markentz Blanc was found guilty on similar charges in July. Blanc was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. Pierre will be sentenced in November.
FindMyPast is a family tree and history search site that started in 2006 and is based in Scotland.
The site is powered by a large research database that contains billions of public records on people, including genealogy records, census records, newspaper archives, immigration records, birth and death records, marriage and divorce records, military service records, address and telephone listings etc.
The FindMyPast genealogy search contains current and historical records on people from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida has the highest percentage of identity theft complaints in the United States, even outpacing the most populated states of Texas and California. Florida is also fraud central for a number of related scams, including income tax refund fraud.
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