Sessions and DOJ take down identity fraudster

A resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for using stolen IDs. Barbara Gonzalez, 32, used the IDs to file fraudulent tax returns.

The arrest was announced by The U.S. Department of  Justice (DOJ) on Friday, another win for the department led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The department says Gonzalez worked as a return preparer at MJ & Associates, which offered tax preparation and other money-related services. Gonzalez was part of a group that used the IDs of Puerto Rican residents to file tax returns, fraudulently seeking over $600,00 in refunds.

Gonzales’s co-conspirators, including Jessenia Cordero, who operated MJ & Associates, then cashed the fraudulently obtained refund checks.

In addition to the prison term, Gonzalez must serve three years of supervised release and pay $319,610.39 in restitution.

Cordero was also sentenced to prison, with a 42-month term.

You may read the Justice Department’s full statement below:

Pennsylvania Return Preparer Sentenced to Prison for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

Sought Over $635,000 in Fraudulent Tax Refunds

An Allentown, Pennsylvania, resident was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for using stolen IDs to file fraudulent tax returns, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

According to documents filed with the court, Barbara Gonzalez, 32, worked as a return preparer at MJ & Associates, a business located in Allentown that provided tax preparation, check cashing and other services. Gonzalez conspired with others to obtain IDs of Puerto Rico residents and used them to file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fraudulently seeking approximately $635,594 in refunds. She directed the IRS to deposit the refunds onto pre-paid debit cards and to mail them to addresses she and her co-conspirators controlled. The fraudulently obtained refund checks were cashed by other co-conspirators, including Jessenia Cordero, who operated MJ & Associates. Cordero was recently sentenced to 42 months in prison.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, U.S. District Judge Edward G. Smith ordered Gonzalez to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $319,610.39 in restitution to the IRS.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and Acting U.S. Attorney Lappen commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ignall and Trial Attorney Matthew J. Kluge of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.

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