Jersey Man Conspires to File at Least 18 Fraudulent Tax Returns in Victims’ Names to Obtain Tax Refund

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NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, was charged today for his role in a conspiracy to file phony tax returns in order to illegally obtain tax refunds, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Emmanuel A. Barrientos-Fermin, 38, of Tenafly, New Jersey, is charged in a three-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment:

From January 2020 through February 2020, Barrientos-Fermin, and others conspired to utilize stolen personal identifying information (PII) to submit fraudulent tax returns to obtain tax refunds without the victims’ knowledge or consent. Co-Conspirator-1 (CC-1) would obtain falsified Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, birth certificates and W-2 forms bearing the victims’ stolen PII and provide them to Barrientos-Fermin and other conspirators. Barrientos-Fermin and others would use the fraudulently obtained PII to file tax returns at various tax preparation company branches, posing as the victims.

Barrientos-Fermin and CC-1 entered into an agreement in which CC-1 would pay $200 to Barrientos-Fermin to enter tax preparation companies posing as the victims to file tax returns in their names. Barrientos-Fermin provided CC-1 a photo of himself; CC-1 provided Barrientos-Fermin with driver’s licenses bearing Barrientos-Fermin’s photos and the victims’ PII. CC-1 also provided Barrientos-Fermin with matching Social Security cards, W2s, and birth certificates. Barrientos-Fermin went to tax preparation locations pretending to be the victims and provided the false documents to the tax preparers to prepare and file fraudulent tax returns. At Barrientos-Fermin’s request, the tax preparers submitted the fraudulent returns via wire transmission from their branch offices in New Jersey to their data processing center in Columbus, Ohio. After submitting each fraudulent tax return and collecting advance refund debit cards, Barrientos-Fermin provided CC-1 the debit cards in exchange for cash payments of $200 per return.

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The count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The counts of aggravated identity theft carry a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. The count of access device fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. All three counts are also punishable by a fine of $250,000, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the Totowa, New Jersey, Police Department for assistance in the arrest and investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Farhat of the Government Frauds Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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