FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — A Cincho Ranch neighborhood was startled Wednesday morning after FBI agents and SWAT raided a home in search of several people accused of organizing an identity theft and fraud scheme, the Houston Police Department said.
Officers swarmed the home at Lemonmint Meadow and Purple Cornflower shortly before 6 a.m. and brought six suspects out in handcuffs.
Investigators arrested James Michael Curtis Johnson, 31; Donald Ray Perry, 26; Enitra Shante Pickett, 28; D'angela Devonne Domio, 26; Joshua Jacquez Britton, 28; and Joseph Edward Johnson, 44. They were all charged with conspiring to file false tax returns and claiming fraudulent refunds.
The group is accused of two conspiracy schemes, including plans to steal money from bank accounts, and another involving the filing of false tax returns and aggravated identity theft, officers said.
James Johnson, Joseph Johnson, Pickett and Britton allegedly conspired with themselves and others to steal money from bank accounts by posing as account holders, creating fake bank accounts online and then transferring money from victims' bank accounts or home equity lines of credit, investigators said. The indictment alleges once the fraudulent refunds were paid, the conspirators drained the money before it could be frozen. As part of this conspiracy, the indictment also said that each member of the group engaged in aggravated identity theft by using victims' personal information to pull off the scheme.
Officers said James Johnson, Joseph Johnson Pickett and Britton did manage to steal money before the fraud scam could be detected, but those funds have been frozen.
The FBI Houston Cyber Task Force and IRS-CI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Houston Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
If convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each suspects could be sent to federal prison for up to 20 years. A conviction for theft of public money is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison. Each suspect also faces a maximum of five years in federal prison upon conviction of the conspiracy. Each conviction also carries a possible $250,000 fine.