Man Faces Seven Years In Federal Prison For Theft Of Public Funds And Aggravated Identity Theft
Defendant Had Several Turbo Tax Debit Cards And PII For 200 Individuals When His Limo Was Stopped For Traffic Offense
DALLAS — Roberto Boris Fernandez appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renée Harris Toliver and pleaded guilty to federal felony offenses stemming from his conspiracy to obtain tax refunds by filing fraudulent tax returns using stolen names and social security information, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Specifically, Fernandez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy count and a mandatory consecutive two-year sentence and a $250,000 fine on the aggravated identity theft count. Sentencing is set for March 4, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade. Fernandez remains in custody.
According to the factual resume filed, during January 2012, Fernandez conspired with others to engage in a scheme to obtain tax refunds by electronically filing fraudulent income tax returns using stolen names and social security information. The returns falsely represented that the taxpayers were entitled to a refund because of a falsely created Earned Income Credit. The returns were filed through Turbo Tax, an online tax preparation service, and directed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to deposit the refunds onto Turbo Tax debit cards that were mailed to coconspirators’ addresses. Fernandez and the coconspirators used the debit cards at automatic teller machines (ATMs) to withdraw cash.
In fact, according to the factual resume filed, for several hours during the evening and early morning hours of January 30-31, 2012, Fernandez and another co-conspirator traveled in a limousine Fernandez had rented to conduct multiple withdrawals from the Turbo Tax debit cards at various ATMs. However, the Little Elm Police Department stopped the limousine for a traffic violation. At the time, Fernandez was the sole passenger. While searching the limousine, officers seized Fernandez’s backpack, a cell phone, an air card, several Turbo Tax envelopes and debit cards, $8,295 in cash, and ATM receipts. Inside the backpack, officers found handwritten personal identifying information (PII) for approximately 200 individuals, together with notations as to refund amounts, personal identification numbers (PINs), and dates on which refunds were expected. Eight additional unopened Turbo Tax envelopes containing Turbo Tax debit cards issued in third party names were also found in the backpack.
IRS Criminal Investigation, according to the factual resume, identified 84 fraudulent income tax returns for the 2011 tax year with refund claims totaling $435,219 that were associated with the debit cards and identifying information located in the backpack.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Stokes is in charge of the prosecution.