Dunmore Man Guilty Of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Diego Rojas, age 42, of Dunmore, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on March 7, 2017, before United States District Court Judge James M. Munley to making false claims against the government.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Rojas admitted to depositing more than 350 United States tax refund treasury checks, at least 250 which were identified as fraudulent, into the check cashing company he owned and operated, Dunmore Check Cashing. Additionally, Rojas admitted that the value of the checks was more than $1.6 million. In the plea agreement, Rojas agreed to make full restitution in the amount of $1,669,864 to the Internal Revenue Service.
The Department of Justice views the prosecution of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud, or “SIRF,” as vital. These schemes disrupt the orderly administration of the income tax system for hundreds of thousands of law abiding taxpayers nationwide and have cost the United States Treasury billions of dollars. SIRF crimes are often perpetrated by criminal enterprises with key individuals at all stages of the scheme: those who steal Social Security Numbers and other personal identifying information, those who file false returns with the Internal Revenue Service, those, including check cashers, who facilitate obtaining the refunds, and those who promote the schemes. These criminal enterprises exploit the highly automated systems for storing personal information, preparing and filing tax returns electronically, and generating income tax refunds quickly—often in the form of electronic payments. Everyone with a Social Security Number is potentially vulnerable to having his or her identity stolen. The IRS estimates that during the 2013 filing season alone, over 5 million tax returns were filed using stolen identities, claiming approximately $30 billion in refunds.
The charge that the defendant has pled guilty to in the present case is the result of ongoing investigations by the Scranton Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police, the Hazelton, Taylor, Dickson City, Dunmore and Olyphant Police Departments, and the Lackawanna and Luzerne County District Attorneys’ Offices. Assistant United States Attorney Evan Gotlob is prosecuting the case.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
The maximum penalty under federal law for this charge is 10 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine plus any restitution that the court orders. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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