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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Two People Charged In Connection With Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme

NEWARK, N.J. – Two people allegedly involved in an extensive scheme to obtain U.S. Government funds through fraudulently obtained refund checks issued by the U.S. Treasury were charged today for their involvement in the scam, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Jhan Luis Mejia Marcelino, 25, and Odanys Orlando Rojas, a/k/a “El Fuerte,” 37, both of Bronx, New York, were arrested this morning by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, postal inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, special agents of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and special agents of the U.S. Secret Service. They are charged by complaint with conspiracy to steal government funds.

Both defendants made their initial court appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion in Newark federal court. Rojas was ordered detained and Marcelino was released on $250,000 unsecured bond.

According to the complaint:

Background on Stolen Identify Refund Fraud

Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) is a common type of fraud committed against the United States government that involves the use of stolen identities to commit tax refund fraud.  SIRF schemes generally share a number of hallmarks:

  • SIRF perpetrators obtain personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, from unwitting individuals, who often reside in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
     
  • SIRF perpetrators complete Form 1040 tax returns using the fraudulently obtained information and falsifying wages earned, taxes withheld, and other data, always ensuring that the fraudulent tax return generates a refund.
     
  • They direct the U.S. Treasury Department to mail refund checks to locations that the perpetrators control or can access.
     
  • With the fraudulently obtained refund checks in hand, SIRF perpetrators generate cash proceeds by depositing the checks into bank accounts that they control.

The Investigation

Marcelino, Rojas and others allegedly have obtained stolen identities that they used to file, and to assist in the filing of Fraudulent Form 1040s to generate Fraudulent Treasury Checks.  From Jan. 31, 2014, through Nov. 22, 2014, the defendants caused to be filed 132 fraudulent Form 1040s, claiming $917,284 in false income tax returns, and causing $14,520 in fraudulent treasury checks to be issued directly from the U.S. Treasury.

Rojas was allegedly responsible for filing 73 Fraudulent Form 1040s, claiming total tax returns of $589,621, on April 22, 2014, alone.  From Jan. 31, 2014, through Nov. 22, 2014, the Preparer Tax Identification Number, or “PTIN,” associated with those filings was also used to file 16,037 fraudulent Form 1040s, which claimed $115,455,061 in tax refunds, and caused $2,943,329 in U.S. Treasury refund checks to be issued.

Marcelino was responsible for filing 59 fraudulent Form 1040s, claiming total tax returns of $327,663, on Sept. 2, 2014, alone.  From May 4, 2014, through Nov. 21, 2014, the PTIN associated with those filings was also used to file 1,356 fraudulent Form 1040s, claiming $8,416,206 in tax refunds, and causing $572,548 in U.S. Treasury refund checks to be issued.

The conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison.  The charge is also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense.      

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of 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. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Monica S. Weyler; and special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Carl Agnelli; with the investigation leading to today’s arrests and charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa Wangenheim and Elisa Wiygul of the General Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the Defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel:

Marcelino: John Yauch Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark
Rojas: Timothy R. Anderson Esq., Red Bank, N.J.

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
15-189
Updated September 8, 2015