Former Torrington Resident Admits Role in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MARIO PASCUAL AQUINO, 36, formerly of Torrington, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to one count of theft of public money stemming from his role in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, AQUINO was involved in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain U.S. Treasury tax refund checks made payable to individuals other than themselves, whose personal identifying information was stolen by co-conspirators. Typically, the individuals whose identities were stolen were citizens of Puerto Rico.
Between October 2011 and March 2013, AQUINO cashed approximately $650,000 worth of fraudulently-obtained tax refund checks at a check cashing store in Torrington. He also opened his own check cashing store in Hartford, Mega Money Transfers, and, in 2011 and 2012, proceeded to cash more than 300 fraudulently-obtained refund checks valued at a total of $750,926 through that store. Finally, Aquino sold six fraudulently-obtained refund checks valued at a total of $60,929 to an undercover agent. He also provided the undercover agent with a fraudulent Connecticut driver license in the name of an identity theft victim.
AQUINO is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on April 6, 2017, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a fine of up to approximately $2.9 million, and an order of restitution.
AQUINO, who most recently resided in Pasadena, Texas, has been detained since his arrest on May 31, 2016.
This matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Waterbury Police Department, Hartford Police Department and Pasadena (Tex.) Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala.