The U.S. government unsealed a 39-count indictment last week, charging two Tampa men in a tax fraud scheme that allegedly netted them millions of dollars. Authorities arrested Marterrence Holloway and Maurice Larry and charged the two with conspiracy to defraud the government, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
In addition to executing arrest warrants, law enforcement also seized a 2013 Audi 8L, which sells for $70,000. Both men have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail. The judge specifically noted Holloway’s criminal history, namely selling cocaine, in denying bail.
The investigation began back in early September of 2010. Street-level narcotics officers executed three outstanding arrest warrants against Holloway at a room in the Howard Johnson Inn on 50th Street in Tampa. In the room, police found Holloway, Larry and three others, with multiple laptop computers, reloadable TurboTax debit cards and the social security numbers of people who were not present in the room (and who were ultimately not known by Holloway, Larry or their associates).
A long-term investigation – called”Operation Rainmaker” – began, run by a task force comprised of local police, sheriff’s deputies, the Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division. Investigators were ultimately able to intercept $100 million and recover $5 million in fraudulent refunds, cash, jewelry, cars and entertainment systems, according to officials.
According to court records, participants in the tax scheme fraudulently obtained someone’s name, Social Security number and date of birth. After making sure the Social Security number had not been used on a tax return, the participant filed income tax returns online. Any tax refund was then issued with a prepaid debit card, check or direct deposit.
In addition to the Audi, 19 other vehicles have been confiscated as a part of this case, including a Mercedes-Benz CL550. Also seized were assets of several local businesses that authorities claimed where being used to launder the proceeds of tax fraud.
As the investigation continued, detectives discovered that some of the participants in the scheme were teaching classes on how to file these false tax turns, sometimes to 50 to 100 people at a time. According to the postal inspectors, nearly 10,000 fraudulent refunds were intercepted during the first year of the investigation.
After a year, the investigation became public and dozens of arrests and property seizures were made in September 2011. Federal charges did not come until a year later in September 2012.
Of the additional 13 suspects, seven are expected to face grand theft charges in state court.