NJ Man Admits to Filing 18 Phony Tax Returns to Get Refunds
A man from North Jersey has admitted to filing 18 fraudulent tax returns using stolen personal information to obtain refunds to which he was not entitled.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig says 33-year-old Emmanuel A. Barrientos-Fermin of Tenafly pleaded guilty before a U.S. district court judge to an indictment charging him with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents:
Barrientos-Fermin admitted that from January 2020 through February 2020, he and others conspired to use stolen personal identifying information (PII) to submit fraudulent tax returns in victims’ names to obtain tax refunds without the victims’ knowledge or consent. A conspirator (CC-1) obtained falsified Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, birth certificates and W-2 forms bearing the victims’ stolen PII. The conspirator provided the documents to Barrientos-Fermin and others, who would use fraudulently obtained PII to file tax returns at various tax preparation company branches, posing as the victims.
Barrientos-Fermin admitted that he entered into an agreement in which CC-1 would pay him $200 to enter tax preparation companies posing as the victims to file tax returns in their names. Barrientos-Fermin provided CC-1 a photo of himself and CC-1, in turn, provided Barrientos-Fermin with driver’s licenses bearing Barrientos-Fermin’s photos and the victims’ PII. CC-1 also provided Barrientos-Fermin with matching Social Security cards, W-2s, and sometimes birth certificates. Barrientos-Fermin admitted going into tax preparation locations pretending to be the victims and providing the false documents to the tax preparers to prepare and file the fraudulent tax returns. After submitting each fraudulent tax return and collecting advance refund debit cards, Barrientos-Fermin provided CC-1 the debit cards in exchange for cash payments of about $200 per return.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and the count of access device fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. The count of aggravated identity theft carries a minimum of two years in prison which must run consecutively to any other term. All of the counts also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the crime.
Sentencing is scheduled for September 15th.