JUN 23 (NEWARK, N.J.) – Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division and Paul J. Fishman, U. S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey announced a Dominican national who was extradited from Canada earlier this year, today admitted his role in one of the nation’s largest and longest-running stolen identity refund fraud schemes ever identified.
Alejandro Javier, 51, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to steal government funds and one count of theft of government funds.
Javier and others participated in a scheme that caused more than 8,000 fraudulent U.S. income tax returns to be filed, which sought more than $65 million in tax refunds, and which resulted in the losses to the United States of more than $12 million. A Dominican national, Javier evaded capture until July 2, 2013, when he was arrested by Canadian law enforcement authorities as he tried to illegally enter Canada. He had been incarcerated there until he was extradited to New Jersey on Jan. 10, 2014.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Stolen Identity Refund Fraud
Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) is a common type of fraud committed against the United States government that results in more than $2 billion in losses annually to the United States Treasury. SIRF schemes generally share a number of hallmarks:
SIRF perpetrators obtain personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, from unwitting individuals, who often reside in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
SIRF perpetrators complete Individual Income Tax Return Form 1040s (Form 1040) using the fraudulently-obtained information, and falsifying wages earned, taxes withheld and other data. Perpetrators use data to make it appear that the “taxpayers” listed on the fraudulent 1040 forms are entitled to tax refunds – when in fact, the various tax withholdings indicated on the fraudulent 1040s have not been paid by the listed “taxpayers,” and no refunds are due.
Perpetrators direct the U.S. Treasury Department to issue the refunds through checks generated by the fraudulent 1040 forms to locations they control or can access, in various ways.
Certain SIRF perpetrators sell the tax refund checks at a discount to face value. In turn, the buyers then cash the checks, either themselves or using straw account holders, by cashing checks at banks or check cashing businesses, or by depositing checks into bank accounts. When cashing or depositing refund checks, SIRF perpetrators often present false or fraudulent identification documents in the names of the “taxpayers” to whom the checks are payable.
The conspiracy count to which Javier pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The substantive count of theft of government property carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for Javier is scheduled for Oct. 8, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola; and HSI-ICE, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees, for their roles.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman, Zach Intrater, and Danielle Walsman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark, and Mala Harker of the Special Prosecutions Division.