Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
April 27, 2017
Contact: Karen Kraushaar, Director of Communications
WASHINGTON — J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), announced the arrests of eight individuals based upon indictments that charged eleven individuals who were allegedly involved in schemes to impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents in order to obtain money from victims by falsely representing that the victims owed back taxes or other fees. Two of the eleven individuals were charged in an indictment for their fraudulent conduct last year.
Agents representing TIGTA and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSAOIG) arrested eight suspects in Miami, FL on April 25, 2017, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to the court documents, the suspects are responsible for almost $8.8 million in schemes that defrauded more than 7,000 victims.
“These arrests demonstrate that TIGTA and its law enforcement partners continue to make significant progress in our investigations related to the IRS impersonation scam that continues to sweep the country. Over the past three years, this scam has resulted in reported taxpayer losses of more than $55 million,” the Inspector General said. “The scammers are relentless and so are we,” he added. “Our investigators will not rest until we have brought those responsible for this scheme to justice.”
The eight individuals arrested are: Yosvany Padilla, Elio Carballo Cruz, Esequiel Bravo Diaz, Ricardo Fontanella Caballero, Alejandro Valdes, Angel Chapotin Carrillo, Alfredo Echevarria Rios, and Joel Leon Pando. The criminal indictments were filed with the following courts: the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on April 4, 2017; and on April 19, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi (Joel Leon Pando). Two other individuals, Dennis Delgado Caballero and Jeniffer Valerino Nunez, were previously arrested in May of 2016 based upon Criminal Complaints that were filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas. One suspect, Lazaro Hernandez Fleitas, remains at large.
According to the court documents, the suspects knowingly conspired with others to commit wire fraud by falsely impersonating IRS agents and demanding money under such false pretenses. Victims received telephone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, who told them the IRS would arrest them if they did not make payment immediately. The callers made these threats and used other methods of intimidation to persuade the victims to wire money, utilizing MoneyGram, Walmart2Walmart Money Transfer, and other wire services.
“No legitimate employee of the United States Treasury Department or the Internal Revenue Service will demand that anyone make payments via MoneyGram, Western Union, Walmart2Walmart Money Transfer, or any other money wiring method, for any debt to the IRS or the Department of the Treasury,” George said.
“Nor will the Department of the Treasury demand that anyone pay a debt or secure one by using iTunes cards or other prepaid debit cards,” he said. “If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately and go to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) scam reporting page to report the call.”
Investigators verified the identity of the suspects and their activities through a variety of investigative methods. TIGTA and SSAOIG Special Agents conducted the investigations that led to the arrests.