Group of Five Admit their Roles in Large-Scale Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – Five people involved in an extensive scheme to obtain millions of dollars through fraudulently obtained tax refund checks issued by the U.S. Treasury pleaded guilty today in Newark federal court, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Julio C. Concepcion 49, of Passaic, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to steal government funds and one count of theft of government funds. Concepcion also pleaded guilty to separate information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with his involvement in a separate mortgage fraud scheme.
Concepcion’s two sons, Angel Concepcion-Vasquez, 30, and Julio Concepcion-Vasquez, 32, and two other defendants, Jose Zapata, 67, and Romy Quezada, 24, all of Passaic, also pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to steal government funds.
Concerning the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) scheme, according to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Members of the conspiracy, from at least October 2009 through May 2013, obtained the personal identifying information, including the names and Social Security numbers, of other individuals, including residents of Puerto Rico. Conspirators filed with the IRS false and fraudulent income tax returns using the stolen identity information, which generated income tax refund checks to which the members of the conspiracy were not entitled. The funds from these refund checks were then routinely transferred between bank accounts controlled by members of the conspiracy. The SIRF scheme resulted in more than $2.5 million in losses to the U.S. Treasury.
Julio C. Concepcion admitted to obtaining these fraudulent refund checks and recruiting others to open bank accounts and deposit the checks, sometimes providing them with false identification in order to do so. Angel Concepcion-Vasquez, Julio Concepcion-Vasquez, Quezada and Zapata each admitted to opening bank accounts into which these fraudulently obtained refund checks were deposited.
Concerning the mortgage fraud information, according to filed documents and statement made in court:
From January 2008 through March 2010, Concepcion conspired with others to commit wire fraud, specifically mortgage fraud. Once a conspirator purchased properties in New Jersey. Concepcion and others caused people to purchase the homes and receive mortgages for the homes either by using false identification documents or without the intent to live in the homes or pay off the mortgages.
Concepcion and others were able to cause parties to issue mortgages for the properties in reliance on fraudulent documents and material misrepresentations. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured some of these mortgages.
As a result of these actions, the FHA and parties who approved the mortgages have lost more than $2.5 million.
The conspiracy to steal government funds charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The theft of government funds charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. All charges are also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencings for all defendants are scheduled for May 7, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carl Agnelli; and the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, with the investigations leading to today’s pleas.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Kogan of the Economic Crimes Unit and Cari Fais and Melissa Wangenheim of the General Crimes Unit.
Julio Cesar Concepcion: Genesis Peduto Esq. North Bergen, N.J.
Julio Concepcion-Vasquez: David Fromkin Esq., Wallington, N.J.
Angel Concepcion-Vasquez: Anthony Fusco Jr. Esq., Passaic, N.J.
Romy Quezada: Stephen Dratch Esq., Livingston, N.J.
Jose Zapata: Elizabeth Smith Esq., Mendham, N.J.