Monday, February 19, 2018
Public safety

Land O'Lakes man accused of tax refund fraud

LAND O'LAKES — A 37-year-old Land O'Lakes man faces several fraud charges after, authorities say, he cashed fraudulent tax refund checks worth $58,732.

Demetrius Antonio Lewis was booked into the Pasco County Jail on one count of organized fraud and eight counts of criminal use of personal identification, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The FDLE led the investigation, with help from the IRS and Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Investigators say Lewis was cashing fraudulent checks made out to eight people who had no idea what he was doing.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in a statement the agency is pursuing similar cases.

Tax refund fraud is a billion-dollar national problem, and the Tampa area is at the forefront. Last year, Tampa thieves stole $468 million from the IRS, according to a federal watchdog.

Authorities often take months to investigate and build a case.

Last November, Lewis was charged with organized fraud in a different crime, authorities say.

He ran a business named Help is Here Foreclosure Prevention and Credit Repair. Under that business name, he would gather the addresses of vacant homes and for $1,000 teach anyone how to occupy them using an obscure loophole called "adverse possession," according to the FDLE.

The law states that a person can obtain a title to a home if he or she lives on the property and pays its taxes for seven years. Authorities say that doesn't give people the right to live in a home that does not belong to them.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Comments
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, reported missing in Manatee County

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, reported missing in Manatee County

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is searching for the 12-year-old sister of a murder victim who was reported missing on Sunday night.Deputies say Jalyssa Shannon left her Manatee County home around 9 p.m. Her mother, Michelle Mosley, reported her ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

Nikolas Cruz was immature, quirky and depressed when James and Kimberly Snead took him into their Parkland home. But he was pleasant and seemed to be growing happier, they said.How the 19-year-old turned into a man now arrested and charged with 17 co...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

TALLAHASSEE A hundred students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland will travel to Tallahassee for a march on the state Capitol on Wednesday in the first organized protest of their #NeverAgain movement. Their demand: that Florida l...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

FORT LAUDERDALE — Pot smokers aren’t the only law breakers able to get a second chance in South Florida. Underage adults buying alcohol, those stealing property worth less than $300 and people nabbed for trespassing, loitering or disorderly conduct a...
Updated: 11 hours ago
As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

PARKLAND — On the Sunday after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost 17 of its own, a minister in Parkland implored his flock not to let the horrific shootings lead them away from their faith."Our world is broken, but Jesus is not," the Rev. Eddi...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Pinellas Park man tries to stop people breaking into his car, is shot in arm

PINELLAS PARK — A man saw people trying to break into his vehicle and chased them away, before one of the attempted burglars shot him in the arm, police said.Alexander Weaver, 28, was at his home on the 6200 block of 106th Avenue N early Sunday morni...
Published: 02/18/18

Deputies: Woman charged with DUI manslaughter hit St. Pete Beach pedestrian

ST. PETE BEACH — Deputies say a driver killed a man walking on a sidewalk and fled the scene before causing a second crash Saturday night.Carolyn Yovan, 51 of St. Pete Beach, now faces felony charges of driving under the influence manslaughter and le...
Published: 02/18/18
Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

PINELLAS PARK — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office late Saturday said detectives arrested a 14-year-old boy and accused him of posting a threat to a school on his Snapchat account.Edward Charles Osgood, who attends Lealman Innovation Academy, was a...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18

Man found dead in flaming mobile home

TAMPA — Firefighters found a man dead inside a burned-down mobile home Saturday.Tampa Fire Rescue got a call just after 4:30 p.m. that a single-wide mobile home at the 100 block of East Linebaugh Avenue was in flames.The man’s identity was not releas...
Published: 02/17/18
‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

Warning: This story quotes graphic material.Before he killed 17 people at a South Florida high school, Nikolas Cruz repeatedly threatened an ex-classmate who had started dating his former girlfriend, according to a report in Buzzfeed News."I’m going ...
Published: 02/17/18