Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Former San Diego Chargers running back Michael Bennett was arrested in Miami on Monday along with fellow NFL alumni William Joseph and Louis Gachelin, the Miami Herald is reporting.
FBI agents working an undercover operation targeting identity-theft and tax-return fraud took Bennett into custody after he and his accomplices attempted to cash dozens of fraudulently obtained tax-refund checks and obtain loans. The money involved in the scam totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The fake check-cashing storefront set up by the FBI had been charging the players 35 to 45 percent in fees to cash the checks using bureau funds. Bennett was introduced to the operation by former Oakland Raiders teammate Joseph.
“Bennett, charged with wire fraud, tried to obtain a $200,000 loan on April 18 from the check-cashing store front, using a UBS financial statement falsely showing that he had $9 million in collateral for the loan,” the Herald reports.
The FBI says identity thieves have stolen as much as $5 billion from processing fraudulent tax returns. A gap in the IRS system where employers provide W2 forms in February or March but the tax bureau doesn’t match them to individuals’ tax returns until June has allowed scammers to exploit the lag time in order to obtain and cash the bogus return checks.
Arraignments are set for May 15, but the Herald reports lawyers for the former players are not talking to the media.