Naples Resident Pleads Guilty in Treasury Check Cashing and Stolen Identity Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Ronald J. Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, announce that Victor Martinez Pantoja, 23, of Naples, pled guilty to one count of theft of government money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 64l, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2. Sentencing is scheduled for June 30, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in Key West.
According to court documents, on November 21, 2013, Pantoja met with two FBl Under Cover Employees (UCEs) and negotiated a deal to cash fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury income tax refund checks. During the meeting, Pantoja gave the UCEs three Treasury checks totaling $27,263 to be cashed, provided a copy of a counterfeited Florida driver license and social security card for each corresponding Treasury check, and forged the names of the individuals to endorse the back of each check. Pantoja obtained these U.S. Treasury checks by filing fraudulent tax returns using the identities of individuals who died in the previous tax year. He obtained the deceased individuals’ identities from the Internet.
Court documents also state that the UCEs agreed to cash the Treasury checks within three business days and to return $20,500 to Pantoja. On November 26, 2013, the UCEs gave Pantoja $20,500 as payment for the previous three Treasury checks. During this meeting, Pantoja provided the UCEs with 6 Treasury checks totaling $35,547, which were to be cashed by the UCEs.
Pantoja faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison for the theft of government money charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for the aggravated identity theft charge.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of FBI, IRS-CI, and the USPIS. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera R. Peoples.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.