Lawrence Woman Indicted on Charges Stemming from Tax Refund Scheme
BOSTON – A Lawrence woman was indicted today by a federal grand jury in connection with her role in a scheme to cash checks obtained through filed fraudulent tax returns.
Luz Paulino, 38, was indicted on one count of bank fraud conspiracy, three counts of bank fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Paulino was charged by criminal complaint and arrested on Dec. 12, 2020.
As alleged in charging documents, Paulino owned Agape Financial Services, a Massachusetts company that provided tax preparation and notary services. Between approximately January 2020 and February 2020, Paulino filed tax returns with the IRS in the names and Social Security numbers of individuals who had neither hired nor authorized Paulino or Agape to use their personally identifiable information. The tax returns reported false wage, employer, and dependent information, among other things. To conceal her role in the scheme, Paulino filed the returns using the names and IRS-issued identification numbers of two former employees. Based on refunds claimed in the false tax returns, Paulino obtained Refund Advance Loan checks payable to the victims, which she and others cashed using the victims’ forged endorsements and false identification documents.
The charges of bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud provide for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of $1 million, restitution and forfeiture. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory sentence of two years to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Joleen Simpson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations; and Lawrence Police Chief Roy P. Vasque made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Miron Bloom of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.