A multimillion dollar tax refund fraud scheme was dismantled by authorities recently, but not after the IRS paid out over $5 million in refunds based on claims made using stolen identities from citizens of Puerto Rico. “Operation Mass Mail” finally resulted in a Complaint naming five defendants which was unsealed earlier this week. IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) is normally assisted by other federal agencies in tax fraud investigations; this time the US Attorney and the US Postal Inspection Service.
The scheme operated more or less in this manner (allegedly):
- Jose Angel Quilestorres got things started from his apartment in the Bronx, filing false returns using stolen taxpayer information
- Refunds were received at multiple locations; some were intercepted by US Postal Service workers who accepted bribes to assist in the fraud
- The refund checks then changed hands again and were cashed by the other four defendants named in the Complaint
The leader of this operation, Quilestorres, faces a maximum of 32 years behind bars.
The tax problems of the Average Joe pale in comparison. How can the IRS find time to pursue criminal charges against people who simply fail to file tax returns (even if they pile up a big tax debt) when things like this are going on around us? Sure, they do find time on occasion, but they have bigger fish to fry.