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Press Release

Eleven Individuals Indicted for Federal Economic-Impact Payment (EIP) Theft Involving over $850,000

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, P.R. – On December 13, 2023, the Federal Grand Jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned 11 separate indictments charging 11 individuals with the theft of federal-economic-impact payments from during the COVID-19 pandemic totaling $858,600, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB), and the Puerto Rico Department of Treasury (Hacienda).

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Federal government provided three rounds of economic-impact payments to eligible individuals in Puerto Rico. The Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury (USDT) approved the Economic Impact Payment Distribution Plan and the Plan for the Disbursement of the Third Economic Impact Payment which enabled the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (PRDT), as the local administrator, to distribute the economic-impact payments to eligible individuals as required by federal regulation.

The Sistema Unificado de Rentas Internas (SURI) was the section of the PRDT that processed and distributed the economic-impact payments. The economic-impact payments were automatic if a taxpayer’s bank account information was confirmed in SURI. Individuals that were not verified could apply for the payments in the PRDT’s online portal. The online portal required an applicant to provide an address, name, social security number, dependent information and banking information. And the applicant would be required to certify to an oath verifying the veracity of the information provided. If the applicant was eligible for the economic-impact payment, the PRDT would then distribute the economic impact-payments to the applicant’s bank account.

According to court documents, the defendants participated in the theft of federal funds and received multiple-economic-impact payments that were obtained using the personal identification information of others.

Eleven indictments charge 11 individuals with Theft, Disposition, and Receipt of Stolen Government Money in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. Some of the individuals were also charged with Engaging in Monetary Transactions in Property Derived from Specified-Unlawful Activity and Laundering of Monetary Instruments in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956 and 1957. These additional charges are related to efforts to structure subsequent financial transactions to avoid financial reporting requirements and to illegally transfer and use the stolen funds for other purposes, including retail purchases like jewelry.

The defendants charged and the corresponding moneys illegally received are: 

Estephany J. Disla


Soammy K. Feliz-Rivera


Ismarielis Nolberto-Cedaño


Tatiana Segarra-Vázquez


José L. Cruz-Gutiérrez


Altagracia J. Peña


Félix J. Rivera-Álvarez


Karla Y. Colón-Cruz


Yuleydi C. Bautista


Esther J. Peña-Tineo


Gisel E. Dilone-Díaz




“These arrests reflect our continued resolve to investigate and prosecute those who try to exploit a national emergency to steal taxpayer-funded resources by using the global pandemic as an opportunity to steal from hardworking citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “We are proud to work with our law enforcement partners to hold wrongdoers accountable and to safeguard taxpayer funds.”

“The purpose of economic incentives, such as those provided through the CARES ACT, is to extend a helping hand to people in need. When criminals develop schemes to steal this money, they directly hurt people who are already in a difficult situation,” said Joseph González, Special Agent in Charge or the FBI San Juan Field Office. “The FBI will continue to investigate these cases for as long as it takes. Social justice starts by doing the right thing, the right way and we urge the public to continue reporting these schemes by calling 787-987-6500 or leaving a tip through”

To report a COVID-19-related fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor O. Acevedo-Hernández is prosecuting the case.

The indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Updated December 14, 2023

Disaster Fraud