Florida man pleads guilty in $8M tax refund and mortgage fraud scam

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A man from Hialeah, Fla., will face sentencing in November after pleading guilty to conspiracy in an $8 million mortgage and tax-refund scheme.

The guilty plea by Yant Garcia, 38, stems from probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation unit that found Garcia distributed funds obtained under false pretenses.

"Beginning around 2012, and continuing through 2015, Garcia agreed with others to launder the proceeds of an identity theft tax refund scheme and mortgage fraud scheme by cashing checks in the name of persons who were not present at check-cashing stores in Miami," according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of Florida.

Garcia pleaded guilty to laundering funds from a mortgage-related wire fraud that diverted $3.7 million to a fake title company in Miami, and also to distributing $4.3 million from illegally obtained tax refunds. The mortgage fraud involved a property in Miami Beach and funds wired on an interstate basis. Each individual refund obtained through identity theft in the tax fraud ranged from $130,000 to $170,000.

Wire fraud is a growing problem for the mortgage and financial services industry. Fake business names and identity theft are as well.

Earlier this year, federal officials arrested 74 people for allegedly participating in a global scam involving wire fraud, and recent data breaches that have exposed personally identifiable information have heightened concern about identity theft. Fannie Mae is finding a growing number of California mortgage applicants are listing fake businesses as employers.

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