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Document and Benefit Fraud
09/17/2012

Florida man sentenced to 34 months for identity theft

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Florida man was sentenced Monday to nearly three years in prison on access device fraud and aggravated identity theft charges. The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court records, J'Melle Hooks, 26, of Cocoa, Fla., was apprehended and searched at the Peace Bridge in September 2011. Hooks was attempting to enter Canada from the United States. Hooks was found to be in possession of stolen healthcare records containing personal identifying information for hundreds of individuals.

It was later discovered that tax returns were fraudulently filed using some of the identities listed in the medical records. Refunds issued by the Internal Revenue Service were automatically put onto debit cards. The defendant had six of these debit cards in his possession at the time of his arrest. Hooks used these credit cards in multiple locations in the United States and Canada to make purchases and obtain cash.