Two Riverside County women allegedly conspired with two men in an identity theft and tax scheme that involved nearly $2 million in fraudulent income tax return filings, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Charlene Castrejon, 58, of Hemet and Rebecca Sandoval, 33, of San Jacinto are accused with Robert Manuel Gamboa, 29, of Highland and Raymond Salazar, 53, or Los Angeles, of filing at least 527 bogus federal tax returns over several years.
Castrejon, Gamboa, Salazar and Sandoval were named in a 41-count indictment unsealed Wednesday and were arrested without incident at their respective residences.
Castrejon and Sandoval posted bonds and were released from custody; Gamboa is slated to appear for a detention hearing Friday in Los Angeles. Salazar remains at large.
The indictment alleges theft of government property, unauthorized use of debit cards and other instruments, possession of falsified documents with the intent to defraud the government, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and criminal forfeiture.
Prosecutors allege the foursome fraudulently used the identities of numerous victims to file tax returns showing eligibility for earned income tax credits, education credits, child tax credits and refunds.
The individuals whose Social Security numbers and other personal information were used in the filings were unaware of the scam, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A total $1.9 million was stolen before the government caught on to the alleged criminal activity.
The IRS, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement and the FBI were involved in the investigation that culminated in the indictment against the defendants on July 12.
If convicted, each of the named parties could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
–City News Service
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