California Resident Pleads Guilty to Stealing Homeless Individuals’ IDs and Using Them to Seek Fraudulent Tax Refunds
Obtained Personal Information by Falsely Representing to Unemployed People that Could Get them Government Assistance
A California resident pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to file false claims for tax refunds, submitting false claims for tax refunds, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.
According to documents and information provided to the court, Diep Vo aka Nancy Vo, 74, conspired with codefendant Trong Nguyen aka John Nguyen, to use the IDs of homeless and unemployed individuals in the San Jose, California area to file fraudulent claims for refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Vo went to homeless shelters and halfway houses and falsely represented to individuals that she could get them money from a government program designed to assist people who had not worked in previous years. Vo convinced people to write down their names and social security numbers and to sign blank income tax returns. Vo and Nguyen then falsified the signed returns including bogus income and income tax withheld amounts and sought fraudulent refunds from the IRS. Vo and Nguyen directed the refund checks to private mailboxes they controlled. Nguyen previously pleaded guilty to submitting and conspiring to submit false claims for refund.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14. Vo faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count of conspiring to file false claims and submitting false claims for refund, 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. Vo also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. Nguyen is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and U.S. Attorney Stretch thanked special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Newman and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.