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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Three Milwaukee Area Persons Indicted for Wire, Mail, and Credit Card Fraud

James L. Santelle, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on June 9, 2015, a federal grand jury in Milwaukee returned an indictment charging three persons:  Vladimir Sonin of Bayside, Wisconsin (age 50); Natalya Sonina of Bayside, Wisconsin (age 47); and Irina Tinney of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (age 47).  Each defendant is charged with thirteen counts of wire, mail, and credit card fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2), (a)(3), 1341, and 1343.  Mr. Sonin and Ms. Sonina are also charged in an additional count of credit card fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A.

The indictment alleges that during the period from approximately January 1, 2013 until May 13, 2015, the defendants carried out a scheme to defraud and steal money from the IRS and various state treasuries through electronically filed fraudulent tax returns claiming tax refunds in the names of identity theft victims.  The indictment further charges that as part of the scheme, the defendants received 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 refunds onto those unauthorized access devices.  Finally, the indictment charges that as part of the scheme, the defendants used the unauthorized access devices at ATMs and then transferred more than $1 million in scheme proceeds to individuals in Ukraine.

Each of the ten mail or wire fraud charges contained in the indictment carries a maximum possible penalty of up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both.  Each of the four credit card fraud charges contained in the indictment carries a maximum possible penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both.  Each of the two aggravated identity theft charges contained in the indictment carries a maximum possible penalty of a mandatory two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence and a fine of up to $250,000 or both.

According to United States Attorney James L. Santelle, "Today's charges are the result of collaborative efforts by many federal investigative agencies to dismantle a scheme that was defrauding both federal and state governments in addition to victimizing individuals.  These charges reflect our continued commitment to investigate and prosecute criminal conduct such as identity theft that directly impacts the citizenry, including identity theft through which fraudulent claims for tax refunds are made."  United States Attorney Santelle specifically commended the participating agencies for their hard work on the joint investigation, which was conducted by Special Agents from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“IRS Criminal investigation is committed to rigorously pursuing identity thieves who steal from American taxpayers,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Shea Jones of the St. Paul Field Office. “Today’s indictment should serve as a warning to identity thieves that we, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney's Office, will pursue those criminals who prey on innocent victims and bring them to justice.”

This case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Stephen A. Ingraham for prosecution.  

The public is cautioned that an indictment is merely the formal method of presenting charges in federal court and does not constitute evidence of the defendant’s guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent until such time, if ever, as the government establishes her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Updated June 10, 2015