Mauricio Warner, 37, faces multiple fraud and theft charges for filing federal tax returns claiming more than $6 million in bogus refunds.
“This defendant and identity thieves like him steal millions in taxpayer dollars every year,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a press release. “We have seen a decided trend in identity thieves turning to phony IRS refunds instead of more traditional credit card fraud schemes, and have allocated increased resources to reverse this trend.”
Between January 2011 to April 2012, Warner allegedly filed more than 5,000 false tax returns using the names and social security numbers of unsuspecting victims. Victims were told they could submit an application for a “stimulus payment” or “Free Government Money” by providing their names and social security numbers.
It is alleged that in some instances, he used toll-free telephone numbers to collect victims’ personal identifying information. Warner then used the victims’ names and social security numbers to claim millions of dollars in fraudulent refunds. The victims did not know tax returns were being filed in their names.
The United States has seized seven bank accounts controlled by Warner that contain $4,185,455.31 in funds believed to be derived from or involved in this scheme.
The indictment charges 16 counts of wire fraud, 16 counts of aggravated identity theft, 16 counts of filing false claims, and two counts of money laundering. Each wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, each false claim count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, and each money laundering count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Warner was arraigned in front of United States Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker on Tuesday on the charges.