NJ: Two Defendants Admit Roles In $65 Million Stolen Identity Income Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Two defendants have admitted their roles in one of the nation’s largest and longest running stolen identity refund fraud schemes ever identified, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced yesterday.
The scheme caused more than 8,000 fraudulent U.S. income tax returns to be filed, which sought more than $65 million in tax refunds, and which resulted in the losses to the United States of more than $12 million.
Michael Senatore, 43, of Moscow, Pa., and David Pinski, 75, of Fort Lee, N.J., both pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to informations charging them with conspiracy to defraud the United States and theft of government property. Senatore entered his plea yesterday, Pinkski entered his plea Nov. 20, 2013.
The conspiracy count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The substantive count of theft of government property carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, an investigation led by the New Jersey Task Force, with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, revealed that from at least 2007, dozens of individuals in the New Jersey and New York area have been engaged in a large-scale, long running tax refund fraud scheme that caused more than 8,000 fraudulent 1040 forms to be filed, seeking more than $65 million in tax refunds, with more than $12 million in losses to the U.S. Treasury.
Pinski, Senatore and others obtained personal identifiers, such as dates of birth and Social Security numbers, belonging to Puerto Rican citizens. The fraudulent returns were filed electronically. By tracing the specific IP addresses that submitted the electronically-filed 1040s, law enforcement officers learned that just a handful of IP addresses created many of the fraudulent 1040 forms that lead to the issuance of tax refund checks.
Conspirators purchased mail routes, that is, lists of addresses covered by a single mail carrier. Conspirators applied for refunds, inserted addresses along the mail route as the purported home addresses of the “taxpayers,” and obtained the refund checks sent to the addresses. They also applied for checks using addresses otherwise controlled by, or accessible by, certain conspirators, and collected the checks after they were delivered to those addresses. During the course of the scheme, hundreds of refund checks were mailed to just a few different addresses in a few different towns, including Nutley, Somerset and Newark, N.J., and Shirley, N.Y.
Sentencing for Pinski is scheduled for March 3, 2014, and sentencing for Senatore is scheduled for March 5, 2014.
SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, New Jersey