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Press Release

Jury Finds Mexican Businessowner Guilty in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Case

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

In El Paso today, a federal jury convicted Elizabeth “Betty” Garcia de Nieto of Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico, of her role in an income tax return scheme that resulted in more than $2.9 million in fraudulent refunds being issued by the IRS announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge William Cotter.

Jurors convicted Garcia (aka “Elizabeth Jurado”) of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States; five counts of mail fraud; three counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft; and, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims.

Evidence presented during trial revealed that from January 2010 to February 2015, Garcia used stolen identities to create fraudulent U.S. tax returns.  Each return claimed an approximate $5,000 refund from the IRS.  Garcia gave some of the IRS refund checks to individuals to bring into the United States to be cashed at money service businesses in El Paso.  She mailed others to individuals residing in the U.S. (namely El Paso, Chaparral, NM, and Oklahoma City, OK) to be converted to U.S. currency.  All monies derived from the scheme, minus agreed-to-fees retained by co-defendants, were wired back to Garcia.

Trial testimony also revealed that in September 2014, U.S. Customs agents at the Paso del Norte Port of Entry seized ten fraudulent tax returns from an employee of Garcia.

“Garcia used false and fraudulent tax returns to steal from the IRS, and ultimately, from American taxpayers.  Working from Mexico, she thought she was beyond the reach of U.S. justice.  This verdict introduces her to the American justice system, and should serve notice on others that U.S. prosecutors and IRS criminal investigators will not stop at the border,” said U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.  

“Today’s guilty verdict for Elizabeth Garcia de Nieto demonstrates the power of the American judicial system when it comes to stealing from the United States Treasury,” said Special Agent in Charge William Cotter, IRS-CI San Antonio Field Office. “Despite the fact that Ms. Garcia lived in Mexico, IRS-CI special agents tracked the fraudulent IRS tax returns she filed and, because of our strong relationships with our international law enforcement partners, brought her to justice.”

Garcia faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each mail fraud charge; up to ten years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud with respect to claims; up to five years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud the United States; and, a mandatory two years imprisonment for each aggravated identity theft charge to run consecutive to any other term of imprisonment assessed.  Garcia also faces restitution to the United States to be determined at sentencing.

Prior to jury selection, 38-year-old co-defendant Christina Perez Altamirano of Oklahoma City, OK, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud prior.  Garcia and Perez remain in federal custody pending sentencing.  No sentencing dates have been scheduled.

Two other co-defendants--42-year-old Rodolfo Ramirez-Estrada of El Paso, and 35-year-old Alberto Altamirano Armendarie of Montgomery, AL— remain in custody awaiting trial on two counts of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.  No trial date has been set for Ramirez-Estrada and Altamirano.

This case was investigated by special agents with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Department of State—Diplomatic Security Service.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jose Luis Gonzalez, Adrian E. Gallegos and Anna Arreola are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.


Updated March 23, 2016

Identity Theft