The case involves a scheme to defraud the United States by fraudulently obtaining and converting to cash U.S. Treasury checks issued by the IRS in connection with fraudulent tax returns filed with the agency. As part of the scheme, tax returns were filed using the personal identifying information of individuals, when in reality, said individuals never filed such tax returns with the IRS. The investigation has revealed that the fraudulent tax returns were filed without the consent of the taxpayers who appear in the returns.
The majority of the defendants would attempt to negotiate the Treasury checks by depositing them in their accounts at financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. Other defendants cashed or attempted to cash the checks at post offices. When a defendant attempted to cash the check at a post office, he or she would present a false identification document such as a driver's license.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum possible sentence of 10 years on the theft of government property charge, plus two consecutive years if convicted on the aggravated identity theft charge. The investigation is ongoing.
The case is being investigated by the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division, with the collaboration of HSI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service, and is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria A. Dominguez. The Puerto Rico Police Department and the San Juan Municipal Police participated in the arrests.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected fraud and identity theft-related information by calling 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.