Eleven individuals were recently charged in an indictment alleging they engaged in various financial crimes and conspired to distribute cocaine.
According to the indictment, the Dominican- and Mexican-national defendants filed false tax returns and illegally claimed millions of dollars in tax refunds. The defendants would use stolen identifying information, including names and Social Security numbers, of individuals from Puerto Rico to file the fraudulent tax refunds.
The indictment follows a multi-agency Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigations and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) taking the lead with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
Pursuant to the investigation, investigators seized three laptop computers that contained information for approximately $19 million in fraudulent refund claims and 2,600 stolen identities, according to a recent ICE release. The defendants used the stolen identities to obtain Alaska identification cards, which they then used to obtain numerous bank accounts to cash the tax refund checks. The indictment also alleges the defendants stole mail from mailboxes in the Anchorage area to obtain physical addresses to use on the returns.
“Today’s indictment is a clear warning that anyone who steals the identities of innocent taxpayers and uses the information for personal profit will be aggressively pursued, investigated and prosecuted, in Alaska or throughout the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler. “This case is an example of how interagency cooperation and teamwork can successfully bring down an entire organized criminal conspiracy.”
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the fraud charges and a minimum five-year mandatory prison sentence for the drug charges.
“These criminals illegally posed as U.S. citizens and exploited our financial system for personal gain,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “By pooling our unique resources, legal authorities and expertise, HSI and the IRS were able to dismantle a significant scheme to defraud the people of the United States.”