United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
Conspirators Operated in Gaston, Lincoln and Mecklenburg Counties
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Arileyda Amparo, 32, of Lincolnton, was sentenced on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, to serve 37 months in prison for a scheme to defraud the government by obtaining false and fraudulent income tax refunds, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Keith Fixel, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Russell F. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service (USSS), Charlotte Field Division.
The criminal indictment filed in March 2011 charged seven individuals with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to false claims, by filing fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds. The defendants prepared the fraudulent returns using stolen identity information of individuals in Puerto Rico. Arileyda Amparo pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in January 2012.
Five co-defendants previously pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in the same conspiracy:
• Dania Ramos, 36, of Lincolnton, pleaded guilty in July 2011 and was sentenced to 48 months in prison.
• Jose de Jesus, a/k/a Jose Ramos, 30, of Vale, pleaded guilty in July 2011 and was sentenced to 37 months in prison.
• Xiomara Amparo, 35, of Lincolnton, pleaded guilty in August 2011 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
• Mildred DePena, 49, Lincolnton, pleaded guilty in August 2011 and was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison.
• Nelson Jimenez, 52, Lincolnton, pleaded guilty in August 2011 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
The last defendant named in the indictment, Johan Vargas, 24, of Hickory, remains a fugitive from justice.
According to the indictment, filed plea agreements and court proceedings:
From January 2010 through February 2011, the defendants participated in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Treasury Department by obtaining false tax refunds. To carry out their fraudulent scheme, the defendants obtained stolen identity information, including names and Social Security numbers of individuals in Puerto Rico, and prepared fraudulent federal tax returns using that information. The defendants carefully selected addresses within the Western District of North Carolina at locations where multiple mailboxes were clustered, and then caused the Treasury Department to mail the false tax refund checks to these specially chosen addresses. The defendants then used the Internet to check the delivery dates of the fraudulent refund checks, pulled the checks out of the mail at the chosen clustered addresses, and cashed the refund checks at various money services businesses located in North Carolina and elsewhere. The defendants then used the money for their own gain. The defendants sought fraudulent refunds totalling more than $3 million during 2010 and more than $2 million from January 2011 up until their arrest in mid-February of 2011.
In sentencing the defendant, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad called the scheme “long term concerted criminal activity,” and emphasized the importance of “adequate deterrence” in tax cases.
Arileyda Amparo has been in federal custody since October 2011 and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The case was investigated by IRS-CI, the United States Postal Service, and the United States Secret Service. The prosecution is being handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny Grus Sugar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.