(WWJ) -- A pair of female rappers from metro Detroit are facing possible prison time after allegedly stealing more than $5.5 million from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, according to a IRS complaint unsealed this week.
Sameerah Marrel of Detroit and Noelle Brown of Romulus, who performed as a rap duo under the name “Deuces Wild” for a number of years, have been charged with aggravated identity theft, false claims and conspiracy.
The 20-page complaint filed by IRS agent Tyler Goodnight -- which was filed in October and unsealed this week -- details the alleged conspiracy carried out by Marrel, a.k.a. “Creme,” and Brown, a.k.a. “Nikki Brown.”
Marrel appeared in federal court this week after being arrested, though Brown was not yet in custody.
The complaint says the investigation dates back to 2016 when the IRS investigator received information from the IRS Scheme Development Center, which had identified a number of Forms 1041 U.S. income tax returns for estates and trusts filed with the IRS between 2013 and 2017.
“These returns were all identified as fraudulent because the returns claimed that the IRS had withheld large amounts of income tax from the trusts purportedly filing the returns, and that those trusts were therefore entitled to large refunds of the excess income tax withheld,” the complaint says.
But in fact, Goodnight says with regards to each of the returns he was tasked with investigating, IRS records showed the IRS did not withhold anything at all related to these trusts, and there for they were not entitled to a refund of any kind.
In total, the SDC referred 122 total forms to Goodnight for investigation after having determined they falsely reported withholdings and claimed refunds totaling more than $13.6 million for the tax years 2013-2017.
“The IRS, before recognizing the fraudulent nature of the returns, actually paid out a total of $5,539,049.28 based on these claims,” the complaint says.
The complaint alleges that Marrell and Brown worked together, after unsuccessfully attempting to launch their hip-hop career, to use names of estates and trusts to claim the fraudulent returns.
The “Deuces Wild” YouTube page has just 21 subscribers and their top video for the song “Sweat It” has just over 2,000 views.
The complaint says most of the fraudulent returns were filed in paper and mailed to the IRS, mostly from Michigan, but some from Georgia, where Marrel also resided. Sixteen returns were filed electronically and the investigator linked the IP addresses used to file them to Marrel.
The IRS investigator reviewed hours of surveillance footage from banks that showed a woman, who has been identified as Marrel, making deposits and withdrawals in accounts linked to the scheme.
In one instance, she deposited more than $62,000 for a refund linked to Lucid Communication Trust into one of her many Huntington Bank accounts. Multiple deposits were made from numerous fraudulent refunds linked to various trusts.
The investigator linked more than 20 tax refunds, totaling more than $1.3 million, that were deposited into her bank accounts, according to the complaint. The document claims Marrel had 29 different bank accounts.
The court document details part of the investigation that led to a woman with the initials “CH” who said she has been best friends with Brown since she was 13 years old.
That woman told IRS investigators she was told by Brown that Marrel knew how to apply for business grants and they were willing to help her apply for one. CH gave her personal information to Brown and Marrel.
Ultimately a form was filled out under the woman’s name and she received a check from the IRS worth $51,235. Brown then instructed the woman to withdraw around $29,000 in a cashier’s check payable to one of Marrel’s companies, “Clean Sweep Properties, LLC.” The woman told IRS investigators she never game them permission to sign her name on a tax return and whoever signed her name spelled it wrong, according to the IRS agent.
Brown has been linked to at least 10 fraudulent tax returns that totaled more than $2 million.
The women could face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted of the crimes.