As people rush to file their taxes, they should keep in mind that not all accountants and tax services are legitimate. Jean Tout-Puissant, 51, of Queens Village was sentenced to up to seven years in prison for his involvement in an identity fraud scheme.
According to District Attorney Richard Brown, Tout-Puissant, a tax preparer, used personal information from his client Louis Beaujuin to fraudulently open several business accounts in 2007. These accounts were used for Tout-Puissant’s bar, El Millenium Pub in Queens Village.
Tout-Puissant applied for credit cards under Beaujuin’s name and withdrew $200,000 in cash advances to make purchases at restaurants and shops, such as Victoria’s Secret, Brown said.
Beaujuin became suspicious when he received bills that did not correspond to any accounts he was aware of. Beaujuin was retired and living off small Social Security benefits at the time.
Brown warned residents that these crimes are easy to fall prey too, especially during this time of year.
“As we enter tax season, all consumers should be very careful as to whom they entrust their most intimate financial details—such as names, date of births and social security numbers,” Brown said. “Such information is worth more than money to an individual intent on committing fraud and could cause a consumer financial headache for years to come.”
Immigrants who implicitly trust members of their own communities are at an increased risk, Brown added. Beajuin and Tout-Puissant were both Haitian.
Tout-Puissant was convicted of multiple counts of grand larceny, first-degree identity theft and first-degree falsifying business records.