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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Milwaukee Area Couple Sentenced To Prison for Roles in False Federal Tax Return and Identity Theft Fraud

Gregory J. Haanstad, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on March 31, 2016, Vladimir Sonin (age: 48) of Bayside was sentenced before Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on charges of aiding and abetting mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, in connection with Sonin’s role in a scheme to use stolen identities to file false federal tax returns demanding fraudulent refunds.  Sonin was sentenced to 58 months in federal prison, 24 of which were mandatory and consecutive, three years’ supervised release, and was also ordered to pay $308,499 in restitution.

Sonin’s sentencing followed the sentencing of his wife, Natalya Sonina (age: 44), on March 22, 2016, by Judge Stadtmueller, for her participation in the same fraud scheme.  Natalya Sonina was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison, 24 of which are mandatory and consecutive, three years’ supervised release, and was ordered to pay $308,499 in restitution along with her husband Vladimir Sonin.

Vladimir Sonin pleaded guilty to the federal charges on November 18, 2015, and Natalya Sonina pleaded guilty to those same charges on November 24, 2015.  Records filed in court indicate that the couple participated in a scheme to defraud with others from approximately January 1, 2013 until May 13, 2015, which included stealing money from the IRS and various state treasuries through electronically filed fraudulent tax returns claiming a tax refund in the names of identity theft victims.  The couple also received by mail unauthorized access devices issued by financial institutions in the names of identity theft victims, and then caused the IRS and various state treasuries to electronically place stolen tax refunds onto those unauthorized access devices.  The scheme also included stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from unidentified victims who paid to remove a “ransomware” virus that had frozen these persons’ computers.  Finally, the couple used those unauthorized access devices at ATMs and transferred a majority of the scheme proceeds to individuals in the Ukraine.

This case was jointly investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen A. Ingraham.      

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Updated March 31, 2016