Riverview Woman Sentenced To More Than Two Years For Tax Fraud And Identity Theft
Tampa, Florida - U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven today sentenced Arswaya Ralph (33, Riverview) to 28 months in federal prison for presenting a false tax return to the United States government and for identity theft. The Court also ordered Ralph to forfeit a number of assets that are traceable to proceeds of the offense - including televisions, computers, jewelry, and other luxury items. As part of her sentence, Ralph was also ordered to pay $273,254 in restitution, of which approximately $105,280 has already been recovered by the United States. Ralph pleaded guilty on May 29, 2012.
According to the plea agreement, on June 2, 2011, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Ralph's home in Riverview. During the search, law enforcement agents recovered approximately $31,387 in U.S. currency, approximately 42 reloadable debit cards, two laptop computers, and approximately twelve handwritten ledgers. The ledgers contained numerous individuals' names, dates of birth, social security numbers, personal identification numbers for online tax filing services, and other financial information including bank account and routing numbers. The investigation also revealed that Ralph attended and hosted "Drop Parties" during which she and others electronically filed numerous fraudulent income tax returns simultaneously.
Ralph admitted that she had been filing fraudulent tax returns using other people's names and identifying information since approximately August or September. At least 65 fraudulent tax returns for the 2010 tax year were found on Ralph's laptop computer. These 65 false claims resulted in an intended loss of $467,781.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Tampa Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Amanda L. Riedel and Sara C. Sweeney.
This case was being prosecuted as part of Operation Rainmaker, a coordinated effort by various federal and local law enforcement agencies to combat the filing of false tax returns in the Tampa Bay region. Agencies participating in Operation Rainmaker include the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tampa Police Department, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.