Minnesota Tax Return Preparer Indicted for Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
A federal grand jury sitting in the District of Minnesota returned an indictment today charging a Rochester-based tax return preparer with conspiring to file false claims for tax refunds, theft of public money, and aggravated identity theft, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Brooker for the District of Minnesota.
According to the indictment, Mercedes Maldonado Rodriguez from 2008 through April 2013, operated a tax return preparation business located in Rochester, Minnesota. Rodriguez allegedly purchased authentic birth certificates of Mexican nationals, which she and her co-conspirators then used along with other falsified documents to fraudulently obtain Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) from the Internal Revenue Service. The indictment further alleges that Rodriguez and her co-conspirators used the fraudulently obtained ITINs to file fraudulent tax returns, which claimed refunds based on, among other items, false dependents and child tax credits. An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the IRS to individuals who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a social security number.
Rodriguez is further alleged to have directed the fraudulent tax refund checks to be mailed to addresses belonging to her co-conspirators, employees, and family members and then cashed.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If convicted, Rodriguez faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy, 10 years in prison for each count of theft of public money and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. She also faces substantial monetary penalties and restitution.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Brooker commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General, who investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter and Trial Attorney Christopher S. Strauss of the Tax Division.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.