How Instagram Helped The IRS Catch Identity Thieves
Nathaniel Troy Maye and Tiwanna Tenise Thomason are facing around 12 years in federal prison and will face a large fine for identity theft and possession of unauthorized devices. The couple pleaded guilty on Friday for the charges in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The IRS agents only had a few clues about the couple when they first started to track them down. Fortunately, they had a witness working undercover. The witness told the agents that the man went by the name “Troy.” The witness also told the agents that Troy was dating Thomason and was from Harlem during a meeting on January 5th at the YOLO restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard.
The three met up again on January 7th at the Morton’s steakhouse on the corner of Federal Highway and Broward Boulevard. The couple turned over a flash drive containing 50,000 identities they thought would be used to file fraudulent income tax returns. When the IRS agents looked through the drive, it had 50 identities. The drive also contained hidden data linked to “Troy Maye.”
IRS criminal investigation unit agent Louis Babino searched online for “Troy Maye” and found an Instagram that was linked to that name. Babino found “a photo of a steak and macaroni and cheese meal containing the caption Morton’s (above).” This photo was connected to the meeting between the witness and the couple.
The agent found a profile photo of Maye on Instagram. The witness identified him as the man that gave him the drive and promised to provide the rest of the 50,000 identities in exchange for payment after fraudulent tax returns were filed in the victims’ names. The IRS agents arrested the couple at Thomason’s apartment and found two flash drives containing as many as 55,000 illegally obtained identities according to Sun-Sentinel.com.
Thomason is free on bond and is working as a bartender in Miami pending her sentencing on July 19th. Maye has a prior conviction for wire fraud and will remain in jail.