Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 5 a.m.
Another day in South Florida, another multimillion-dollar scam collapsing.
This time around, federal officials working with the Broward Sheriff Office arrested Fort Lauderdale resident Alci Bonannee and several others for filing more than 1,000 bogus tax documents that yielded $9.5 million in returns.
The alleged criminals apparently didn't put too much effort into hiding the evidence. When authorities searched Bonannee's home, they found a folder and notebook that had "more than a thousand names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, which were used for the submission of fraudulent tax refund claims," according to the Department of Justice.
An indictment filed June 1 against Edwin Bonannee and Sabrina Balkman-Bradwell shows that the crew would pilfer the identities of both the living and dead -- though mostly the dead, whom they called "sleep people" -- file the necessary documents with the IRS, and then get hefty returns.
On one instance in March 2011, Edwin Bonannee told Balkman-Bradwell that he could get a tax refund for $125,000. Balkman-Bradwell advised against it because "cashing out" a six-figure tax return is, um, well, a bit sketchy.
A week later, the two talked about doing a test run on an $88,000 check.
The indictment also shows that Balkman-Bradwell talked trash about lesser-skilled fraudsters who got caught running similar tax scams by not being careful and "recklessly spending their money."
Over a two-month stretch in the winter of 2011, Balkman-Bradwell obtained "a total of approximately 1,712 fraudulently obtained income tax refund checks and electronic deposits" that totaled more than $5.5 million.
While Alci Bonannee isn't named in the indictment, the DOJ said she made her initial appearance in court last week for her part in the scam. She allegedly controlled some of the bank accounts where the money was funneled to, and, as mentioned earlier, had a notebook with thousands of peoples names and social security numbers.