Louis A. Francois, 44, of Margate, Fla., was recently sentenced to five years in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for his involvement in a stolen identity tax refund (SIRF) scheme.

Francois, who had pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, was also ordered to pay $355,000 in restitution.

According to court documents, Francois, who owned and operated the tax preparation business A&I Multi Services, stole between 10 and 50 people's personally identifying information (PII), including their names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and addresses.

Francois used the stolen information to file fraudulent federal tax returns claiming refunds in the victims' names, then printed out refund checks payable to the victims, minus a "tax preparation" fee made payable to Francois.

He then cashed the refund checks at a check cashing store, using fraudulent Florida driver's licenses matching the stolen identities.

From July 2010 through June 2011, the total amount of checks cashed and fraudulent refunds requested by Francois totaled approximately $355,000.

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