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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

Monday, May 4, 2015

Six Individuals From Colorado Are Charged With Prison Refund Fraud Scheme

DENVER – Raul Caraveo, age 43, Pamila Lucero, age 40, Sabrina Caraveo, age 31, Eugene Chavez, age 43, Carolina Aragon, age 58, and Christina Portillos, age 35, all from Colorado, were charged for conspiracy to file false IRS refunds, United States Attorney John Walsh and IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Gilbert R. Garza announced.  All six defendants were indicted by a federal grand in Denver on April 7, 2015, which remained sealed until those charged had their initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge last week. 

According to the indictment, beginning in February 2008, and continuing until May 2014, the defendants and unindicted coconspirators conspired with each other to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by submitting or causing to be submitted false claims for income tax refunds. 

Raul Caraveo, while incarcerated within the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC), obtained the identifying information of fellow inmates and inmates’ relatives to include names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. Caraveo and fellow DOC inmate Eugene Chavez used this information to generate false Form 1040A tax returns, listing the names of inmates and their relatives as either the primary tax payer or as a dependent of that alleged tax payer, and entering false wage and income information on the Forms 1040A.  They submitted to the IRS tax returns for the years 2005 through 2013 with similar characteristics to include but not limited to Form 1040A, Earned Income Tax Credits, and all requested refunds that ranged between $2,491 and $3,052.

In most instances, Raul Caraveo and Eugene Chavez would fill out Form 1040A returns and mail them from prison to Pamila Lucero, Sabrina Caraveo, or Carolina Aragon.  At other times, Raul Caraveo, Eugene Chavez, and other inmates would provide missing information for the returns to Pamila Lucero, Sabrina Caraveo, or Carolina Aragon, and direct them to add that information to the returns.

Almost all of the false returns used one of approximately a dozen addresses provided by Pamila Lucero, Sabrina Caraveo, Carolina Aragon, Christine Portillos, and unindicted co-conspirators.  Once the packages of returns were completed, Pamila Lucero, Sabrina Caraveo, or Carolina Aragon would mail them to the IRS Service Center for processing.

During the course of this conspiracy, over 250 false claims for income tax refunds were submitted to the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to receive fraudulent refunds. 

All six defendants were charged with count one, count of conspiracy to file false claims for a refund.  The remaining counts two through thirty-seven, are false claims for a refund, are charged as follows:  Raul Caraveo 33 counts, Pamila Lucero 32 counts, Sabrina Caraveo 29 counts, Eugene Chavez 30 counts, Carolina Aragon 3 counts and Christina Portillos 7 counts.

Conspiracy to file false claims for a refund, if convicted, carries a penalty of not more than 10 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine, per count.  False claims for a refund, carries a penalty of not more than 5 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine, per count. 

This case is being investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS CI).  The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha A. Paluch.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

Updated June 22, 2015