ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Eleven defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury on 90 counts including tax fraud, identity theft and cocaine distribution committed over a period of more than two years.
U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler’s office says the defendants allegedly obtained names and Social Security numbers of Puerto Rico residents from January 2010 to March 2012, by means including the acquisition of three laptop computers containing more than 2,600 stolen identities and stealing mail from Anchorage mailboxes. The information was then used to falsely claim millions of dollars in fraudulent tax rebates to which they were not entitled.
“Today’s indictment is a clear warning that anyone who steals the identities of innocent taxpayers and uses the information for personal profit will be aggressively pursued, investigated, and prosecuted, in Alaska or throughout the United States,” Loeffler said in a statement Thursday. “This case is an example of how interagency cooperation and teamwork can successfully bring down an entire organized criminal conspiracy.”
The scheme involved contacting conspirators in both New Jersey and Puerto Rico, who were involved in sending tax refund checks to Anchorage under false names. The checks were then negotiated at Anchorage banks. A Wells Fargo bank employee is charged in the indictment with helping other defendants open accounts under fake names and negotiating forged U.S. Treasury checks.
Cashing the checks required additional identity fraud, as outlined in Thursday’s statement.
“In order to negotiate the tax refund checks, the defendants allegedly used false identification documents,” prosecutors wrote. “They allegedly obtained these documents by using the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of other individuals in applications made to the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles. The defendants are charged with opening numerous bank accounts in the various stolen identities.”