GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr., announced today that Marvin Deshawn Whetstone, 34, formerly of Grand Rapids, was sentenced to seven years in prison for check-writing and income tax refund schemes. U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell imposed the sentence.
From June 2012 through October 2014, Whetstone defrauded the U.S. Post Office and area retailers by recruiting accomplices to open bank accounts with a nominal amount of money and directing them to write thousands of dollars of bad checks to purchase rolls of postage stamps, retail gift cards, and other goods. They provided Whetstone with the fraudulently acquired stamps, gift cards, and goods, which he sold online.
At the same time, Whetstone used his accomplices to recruit individuals who had no legitimate employment and were not entitled to income tax refunds to provide him with their identifying information, such as their Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, and addresses. Whetstone then filed fraudulent income tax returns in their names to obtain tax refunds, which were directly deposited into “Green Dot” and “RushCard” general purpose reloadable prepaid debit cards. He then withdrew cash from the debit cards and, in some cases, split the proceeds with the individuals in whose name the refunds were filed, while in other cases he kept the proceeds himself.
All told, Whetstone defrauded the U.S. Postal Service and retailers of approximately $100,000, and the Internal Revenue Service of approximately $54,000.
In addition to ordering the prison sentence, Judge Bell ordered Whetstone to serve three years of supervised release after prison, pay restitution, and forfeit his Bentley Continental, which was purchased with proceeds of the crimes.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler.