NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–New Brunswick resident Manuel Rodriguez, age 50, has been sentenced to 48 months in a federal prison for what officials have called one of the largest and longest running stolen identity refund-fraud schemes.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office released a statement on September 19 announcing that the 5 year scheme caused roughly 8,000 fraudulent income tax returns to be filed, resulting in a loss of more than $11.3 million to the United States Government.
All told, the fraudulent returns would have yielded $65 million but the authorities intercepted millions of dollars before they were paid out.
Officials say Rodriguez used personal identifiers such as dates of birth and social security numbers primarily belonging to residents of Puerto Rico.
Those identifiers were then used to create fraudulent 1040 Tax Return Forms which were then sent to the IRS. The system also involved bribing mail carriers to help corrall the checks, including one whose route ran through Franklin Township.
Back in February U.S. District Judge Claire C. Gecchi accepted Rodriguez’s guilty plea to the following charges; conspiracy to defraud the United States, theft of the government, and aggravated identity theft.
After serving 48 months in prison, Rodriguez will also be ordered to serve three years of supervision upon his release and pay $5.2 million in restitution.
A press release from the Department of Justice lists another co-conspirator with a New Brunswick address: Rigoberto Torres, identified as a “Check Casher.”
Rodriguez was identified as “Obtained and Cashed Checks” in the release.