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WORCESTER — A Florida man is accused of orchestrating an intricate scheme to steal government payments to individuals, using people in Worcester to filter the allegedly pilfered money, according to an affidavit on file in federal court.
Sniders Jean-Jacques, 27, of Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., is being held in federal custody on allegations of conspiracy to defraud the government. He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court Friday for a detention hearing. Authorities said Mr. Jean-Jacques is a native of Haiti and has ties to Dorchester.
Mr. Jean-Jacques, the owner of a tax preparation business who calls himself a philanthropist on his Twitter page, appears to be the only person charged in the case so far. However, federal records list several others purportedly involved in the scheme.
A 14-page affidavit filed by an investigator for the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General claims Mr. Jean-Jacques and a co-conspirator recruited "couriers" in Massachusetts. These people were directed to open bank accounts in the name of fake businesses. Mr. Jean-Jacques helped create business accounts for his "couriers" and met with some in Worcester.
"Those accounts were then used to receive direct deposits of Social Security and IRS refund payments that had been illegally redirected from their intended recipients into the couriers' accounts," the affidavit states.
Investigators relied heavily on the alleged co-conspirators to build a case against Mr. Jean-Jacques. Conversations were recorded and bank account records and transactions were monitored, records show. Thousands of dollars flowed into these accounts, according to records.
One alleged co-conspirator called Mr. Jean-Jacques the "brains" of the criminal scheme, which authorities said lasted from April 2013 to December 2013.
Direct deposits from the IRS were placed into several phony business accounts. Money was gradually taken out and most of it was deposited into other accounts for Mr. Jean-Jacques, authorities allege.
In detailing the cooperation of one courier, authorities said Mr. Jean-Jacques gave a woman money to open a bank account for a business called Simple Scents, a candle-making company that was not registered with the state.
One man told investigators he alone moved about $100,000 on Mr. Jean-Jacques's behalf. According to records, Mr. Jean-Jacques warned one "courier" not to withdraw more than $10,000 a day from the bank account because the transaction would have to be reported to the federal government, the affidavit said.
Mr. Jean-Jacques allegedly directed his cohorts to stop using Western Union when the company's policies changed and required identification for transactions.
Investigators found some Social Security benefit recipients had their direct deposit information changed online — changes the beneficiaries never approved themselves. Two cases involved dead people. The online changes were tracked to an Internet protocol address in Miami, a hotbed of Social Security and IRS fraud.
During their investigation, authorities seized a 17-page list of 375 names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. IRS agents found fraudulent tax returns had been filed for some of the names, the affidavit said.