Los Angeles, California – LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – IRS Cr…

Los Angeles, California – LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents arrested two men yesterday morning in connection with a scheme that was designed to defraud the Internal Revenue Service through the filing of false federal income tax returns.

Mauricio Lopez was taken into custody in Riverside, California and Paul Hansen was arrested in Apple Valley, California yesterday after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. Lopez and Hansen were indicted for conspiring to defraud the United States with respect to claims, the filing of false claims against the United States, possession of access devices, obstruction of justice and false statements charges stemming from a scheme to file false federal income tax returns claiming tax refunds form the Internal Revenue Service totaling $355,970.

According to the indictment, beginning in February 2002 and continuing until August 2002, Lopez and Hansen entered into an agreement with one another, and with other unidentified individuals, to knowingly and intentionally defraud the United States by filing false claims for income tax refunds with the Internal Revenue Service. To do this, one or more members of the conspiracy would obtain a Social Security Number from an individual without informing that person that their SSN would be used to prepare a tax return.

After obtaining the person’s personal information, a fraudulent federal income tax return, in the name of the person from whom their personal information was obtained, would be prepared. To support the fraudulent return, a false Form W2G, detailing non-existent gambling winnings and withholdings, would be created for submission with the income tax return indicating several thousands of dollars of gambling withholdings. These returns were filed with the IRS, claiming fraudulent refunds which neither Lopez nor Hansen were entitled to receive.

Upon receipt of the refund check, an internet bank account would be opened in the name of the person whose personal information was previously solicited and whose name appeared on the check, often utilizing the fraudulently obtained refund check as the opening deposit. Checks and ATM cards would be requested for the account and these items would be sent to a commercial post office box controlled by Hansen or to an apartment controlled by Lopez. Both Lopez and Hansen would subsequently wire money to their own personal bank accounts from the internet bank account or withdraw currency using the fraudulent obtained ATM cards.

Both Lopez and Hansen made their initial appearances before a judge in United States District Court in Riverside, California this yesterday afternoon. If convicted on all counts in the indictment, Lopez faces a statutory maximum of 32 years in federal prison. Hansen faces a statutory maximum of 55 years in federal prison.

An indictment is a charging document alleging violations of statutes. All defendants are presumed innocent of charges unless and until proven guilty before the court.

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