Alci Bonannee was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after federal authorities accused her of stealing $9.5 million through fraudulent tax returns, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Bonannee, 35, was charged with conspiracy to submit false claims to the government and possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices. It is not clear whether she has qualified for bail bond or has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
According to the press release, the investigation into the alleged offense was conducted by the U.S. State Attorney’s Office in cooperation with the IRS-CID (criminal investigation division) and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The investigation, which at first involved tracking down tax returns and culminated in a raid of Bonannee’s apartment, concluded the Bonannee had stolen approximately $9.5 million by filing over a thousand fraudulent tax returns between January 2011 and the present. It does not appear as though Bonannee has commented publicly on the federal charges.
Bonannee is believed to have committed the multi-million dollar tax fraud with the help of several accomplices. The accomplices’ identities were not revealed in the press release, and it remains unclear whether they will be prosecuted in the case as well. The number of possible accomplices is likewise unknown. In many tax fraud schemes, accomplices aid in gathering victims’ personal information or withdrawing funds.
Regardless of the number or role of conspirators, investigators reportedly discovered during the course of their preliminary investigation that the alleged cohorts submitted the fraudulent tax returns and requested that the refunds be deposited into bank accounts. Bonannee and the others then allegedly withdrew money from the bank accounts, which they had access to. It is not clear whether all of the funds were withdrawn. The report does not specify how Bonannee and her accomplices allegedly spent the money.
After ascertaining this much, investigators raided Bonannee’s residence and alleged that they discovered a notebook and folder hidden “under a tall cabinet in the master bedroom.” In the folder and notebook, detectives allegedly found names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth for over a thousand victims of tax fraud believed to be connected to Bonannee. It is unclear how Bonannee allegedly got hold of the information, which has been confiscated.
Unfortunately, arrests for fraud are exceedingly common, especially in South Florida. Less than a week before Bonannee’s arrest, the Florida U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that 14 defendants had been arrested for using Bank of America customer information to siphon funds from the customers’ online bank accounts. Although no numbers as to the amount taken or the number of victims were released, the suspected head of the operation, Ibrahin Elias, was charged with 16 counts of substantive bank fraud.
Just one day before those arrests were announced, the Florida U.S. Attorney’s office reported yet another fraud bust – this one, like Bonannee’s case, for tax fraud. The three defendants (Dwayne Solomon, Jude Alcindor, and Ralph Armand) are suspected of attempting to file a fraudulent income tax refund for the amount of $226,930.