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Press Release

Former El Paso Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison for their Roles in an Identity Theft and Fraudulent Tax Refund Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

In El Paso, 34–year-old Curtis Joshua Cooper (aka “Kelvin Afanador-Rodriguez”) and 30-year-old Brandie Malfavon were sentenced to 29 months and eight months in federal prison, respectively, for their roles in an identity theft and fraudulent tax refund scheme announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge William Cotter.

In addition to the prison terms, U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo ordered that the defendants pay $22,749.55 restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and that they be placed on supervised release for a period of two years after completing their prison terms.

On January 13, 2015, Cooper and Malfavon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Cooper also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft.  According to court records, from January 2010 until March 2011, the defendants conspired to obtain refunds derived from fraudulently prepared income tax returns.  Cooper, admittedly, used names, dates of birth and social security numbers he purchased to electronically submit fraudulent income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service.  The refunds, which were claimed and received by Cooper based on those fraudulent income tax returns, were transferred by wire from the Federal Reserve Branch in New York to bank accounts in El Paso that were opened by Malfavon.

“The actions of these criminals to steal the identities of innocent, hardworking Americans in order to use the ill-gotten funds for personal gain are disgraceful,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge William Cotter, San Antonio Field Office.  “Identity theft is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers and IRS Criminal Investigation is determined to stop these criminals and bring them to justice.”

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian Gallegos prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

Updated April 30, 2015

Identity Theft