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Press Release

Northeast Pennsylvania Check Casher Charged In Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Diego Rojas, age 42, of Dunmore, Pennsylvania, was indicted on January 19, 2016 by a federal grand jury in Scranton for conspiracy to make false claims against the government.  The case was unsealed on February 19, 2016 following Rojas’ initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph F. Saporito, Jr.

Rojas owned and operated Dunmore Cash Checking, a check-cashing, tax preparation and money transfer business in Dunmore. In 2013 Rojas deposited more than 350 United States treasury checks, at least 250 of which were identified as Stolen Identitiy Refund Fraud (SIRF) checks.  The approximate value of these checks was $1,600,000.  Each of these checks was deposited into a bank account that Rojas owned under the name of Dunmore Cash Checking between January and November 2013.

According to United States Attorney Smith, the prosecution of fraudulent tax refund schemes that rob tax payers as well as the government is a high priority in this district.

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 charges in the present case are 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.  The case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Evan Gotlob for prosecution.

Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law is 20 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $500,000 fine. 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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Updated February 23, 2016