Wimauma, Florida -- A 2-year-long investigation and a unique partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement helped break up a tax fraud ring, one that investigators say was run out of a Wimauma home.
Investigators issued 15 indictments and made seven arrests, including the person they believe to be the ringleader. They are looking for eight other suspects.
Residents living in the quiet, single-family home subdivision called Ayersworth off U.S. 301 say they knew something was going on at 10917 Dunscore Cottage Way. Neighbor Jack Jackson said too many things didn't add up. "At any time, 6-7 cars out there, 5 people walking in at any time," he said.
There were the luxury cars, an Audi dressed up with $5,000 rims, and the BMW SUV in the garage.
Jackson said, "They would come over now and then to borrow silly things...jumper cables. You have a $90,000 car and why are you borrowing anything like jumper cables?"
Neighbors were suspicious of six security cameras mounted around the house monitoring the outside at all times. Jackson said, "It seems every time someone came over they had to be buzzed in."
Neighbor Stephanie Rickman said, "That's pretty disturbing. We knew they were up to no good."
Investigators raided the two-story Wimauma home Wednesday morning, seizing a quarter million dollars in luxury cars, an 80-inch flat screen TV, and arresting 26-year-old Rahsia Wilson. Investigators say Wilson is the ringleader.
Investigators say they suspect Wilson created the personal identification and tax fraud scheme, and Marterrence Holloway and Maurice Larry orchestrated the crimes. Both men face federal charges.
Major Ken Morman with the Tampa Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division said, "This was a phenomenon when created. It was an education process and a recruiting process. They solicited input from others and caused this to grow into an epidemic."
Investigators say the trio held training classes on tax fraud and identification theft from Wilson's home in Wimauma. Jackson said they stole from taxpayers like him. He said, "Taking the working man's hard-earned money for things like that. I have to work to make mine."
Rickman added, "We are working for a living and working hard. Here they are doing it illegally, living the life of luxury."
Investigators say the tax fraud scheme preyed on people who were deceased. They filed tax refunds claims in their names and, in at least one case, took advantage of the deceased person's medical benefits. Investigators say the suspects kept the refunds at around $1,400 so to not raise suspicion.
Investigators say the "First Lady" of the operation, Rashia Wilson, is a convicted felon and is charged with weapons possession but faces more charges.
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