Defendant Faces a Forfeiture Allegation of $227,653.22
On June 3, 2015, a federal grand jury returned a 46-count indictment charging Mariely Malavet-Rivera for wire fraud, theft of public money and aggravated identity theft announced U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) is in charge of the investigation. The indictment was unsealed today as the defendant was arrested.
These charges stem from a scheme utilized by Malavet-Rivera to submit false federal tax returns seeking the additional child tax credit (ACTC) in order to obtain fraudulent refunds from the IRS via check or direct deposit. Personal identification information including individuals’ name, date of birth and social security number were utilized without the knowledge or consent of the individual in order to request and obtain the fraudulent refund. In some instances, defendant obtained this information by preparing the individual’s Puerto Rico tax return for a nominal fee.
The false federal tax returns contained defendant’s own postal address and bank account information so that the fraudulent refunds would be deposited via wire to bank accounts she controlled and the physical checks would be mailed to her address. Defendant then used a means of identification of another person without lawful authority to cash the fraudulent refund checks through an intermediary company.
“Refunds are issued to taxpayers who are entitled to them,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively pursue those who prepare false claims for refunds for the purpose of enriching themselves and depleting the U.S. Treasury.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation is sworn to protect the tax system and bring to justice those who steal from the United States Treasury,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Miami Field Office. “This indictment is another example of our commitment to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to vigorously pursue those individuals who steal Puerto Rican identities and file false tax returns for their own personal gain.”
The indictment alleges 30 counts of wire fraud, related to 30 fraudulent refunds paid via direct deposit from 2010 through 2013 to bank accounts controlled by the defendant; eight counts of theft of public money, related to eight fraudulent refund checks received and converted to the defendant’s use; and eight counts of aggravated identity theft, related to the possession and use without lawful authority of a means of identification in relation to theft of public money charged in the indictment. The fraudulent tax refund scheme had a total value of approximately $227,653.22.
The case is being investigated by IRS-CI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth A. Erbe. If found guilty, the defendant is facing a maximum penalty of 36 years in prison.
Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. The investigation is ongoing.