New York Man and Springfield Relative Sentenced for Cashing Fraudulent Tax Refund Checks
BOSTON – A New York man and his sister-in-law were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Springfield in connection with a scheme to cash fraudulent tax refund checks.
Robert Evans, 54, of Wallkill, NY, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to two years of probation including three months of home confinement and ordered to pay $517,714 in restitution. In January 2016, Evans pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government money. Evelyn Manzueta, 52, of Springfield, was sentenced on Oct. 6, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman to one year in prison, three years of supervised released and ordered to pay $1,377,376 in restitution. In June 2016, she pleaded guilty to theft of government property.
From January 2012 to May 2013, Manzueta orchestrated the cashing of 236 fraudulent tax refund checks. She cashed nearly $500,000 through her own accounts and enlisted friends and family members, including her brother-in-law Evans, to cash the remaining checks. Evans cashed $517,714 through his accounts. In total, $1,377,376 in fraudulent tax returns were cashed through the scheme.
The U.S. Department of Treasury issued the checks based on tax returns, submitted by unknown individuals, which were later determined to be fraudulent. Although the tax returns used the names and Social Security numbers of real people living in Puerto Rico, their addresses were falsely listed as Massachusetts and New York. The tax returns also contained false employment information. Both Evans and Manzueta, knowing the tax return checks were fraudulent, cashed them through their bank accounts.
This case is part of an ongoing effort to prosecute perpetrators of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) schemes. In these schemes, individuals use stolen identities to steal money from the U.S. Treasury by filing fake tax returns that claim tax refunds. SIRF crimes are often perpetrated by large criminal enterprises with individuals at all stages of the scheme: those who steal the Social Security Numbers and other personal identifying information, those who file false returns with the IRS, and those who facilitate obtaining the refunds. These criminal enterprises exploit the speed and relative anonymity of highly automated systems that store personal information, preparing and filing tax returns electronically, and generating income tax refunds quickly. The IRS estimated that, in 2013, the government lost $5.8 billion to SIRF schemes.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen L. Goodwin of Ortiz’s Springfield Branch Office prosecuted the case.