Texas man and woman sentenced in Missouri for tax fraud scheme

Two people were sentenced yesterday on charges of aggravated identity theft, conspiracy and possession with the intent to use false identification documents in a scheme to file false income tax returns.

The convictions resulted from a scheme in which the defendants, Marco Cardoso-Cisneros and Jacqueline Garza-Hernandez, obtained the names, social security numbers and dates of birth of residents of Puerto Rico and filed United States income tax returns asserting that the individuals lived and worked in the United States. At some time prior to June 2005, individuals who were not identified obtained the identifying information of the Puerto Rican residents and that of their dependents. After acquiring the identities, between on or about June 5, 2008, and continuing to on or about August 29, 2008, Cardoso-Cisneros and Garza-Hernandez obtained false and fraudulent drivers licenses in the identities of Puerto Rican residents, but bearing their photographs. The defendants also obtained social security cards and counterfeit proof of insurance cards in the names of the identity theft victims.

Some of the information was obtained when unidentified individuals posed as representatives of Gerber Life Insurance, and persuaded the Puerto Rican residents to obtain life insurance for their minor children. In exchange for signing up, the residents were promised gift cards and were told that they did not have to begin paying their premiums for a period of time. As a result of the promises, some residents completed life insurance applications which included their names, dates of birth and social security numbers, as well as those of their spouses and children. The company which markets the Gerber Life Insurance program did not authorize the scheme, nor did they receive the applications.

In order to obtain addresses in the United States, Cardoso-Cisneros and Garza-Hernandez applied for mail services from commercial mail service providers such as United Parcel Service, Mailboxes Etc. and Mail Depot in St. Charles County, St. Louis County, Jefferson County and the City of St. Louis in Missouri by preparing and presenting false applications for delivery of mail through an agent. As the addresses appeared to be those of residences, the tax returns presented the appearance of legitimacy. Defendants traveled throughout this district as well as other districts opening commercial mail boxes and returning to collect fraudulent income tax refund checks and stimulus checks which had been delivered through the United States mails.

On or about September 1, 2008, law enforcement officers in St. Charles County conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle owned by Garza, but driven by Cardoso. In the vehicle and on their person, the officers discovered fraudulently produced state identification documents bearing their photographs but the names of others, fraudulently obtained social security cards, handwritten notes containing identifying information, income tax returns, Gerber Life Insurance applications, counterfeit proof of motor vehicle insurance cards, birth certificates, computer equipment and envelopes addressed to the Internal Revenue Service containing income tax returns. More than 280 social security numbers appeared on various documents located through the search. The vast majority, 269, were valid numbers belonging to people residing outside the United States. The government calculated that had the scheme not been discovered, the loss to the government in the Eastern District of Missouri would have exceeded $400,000.00.

Cardoso-Cisneros was sentenced to 51 months, while Garza-Hernandez was sentenced to 36 months.

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