Two women recently pleaded guilty and another was indicted on federal tax fraud charges that involved a scheme to defraud the government of over $5 million through the filing of false tax returns. Postal workers alerted authorities to the suspicious mail activity – multiple checks from the U.S. Treasury were being delivered to the women.
Part of the income tax fraud scheme included improperly claiming the child tax credit. The credit gives back $1,000 per child for every child under 17 in a household with three or more children. The women were collecting the money and sending it back to Mexico, according to investigators.
Ana Portillo is the alleged ringleader of the tax fraud scheme. She was indicted on federal fraud charges in December. Her co-conspirators, Cathy Cisneros and Candida Figueroa pleaded guilty to tax fraud in November. Figueroa and Cisneros may face up to 10 years in prison for their federal crimes and have been ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 each.
Both agreed to assist federal prosecutors with the case against Portillo.
Figueroa is not legally in the United States and will be deported for her crimes.
The massive fraud scheme has led to calls for tax reform from at least one Congressman. Republican North Caroilna Senator Richard Burr has called for proof of identity requirements for those filing tax returns and for proof of the identity of any children for whom a child tax credit is claimed.
Source: WSOCTV, “9 Investigates: Authorities say 3 women behind $5M tax fraud scheme,” February 1, 2013