CAMDEN – A Merchantville man has admitted his role in a scam that defrauded the U.S. Treasury of more than $500,000.
Jorge Gutierrez, 42, took part in a ring that stole the identities of Puerto Rico residents, then filed phony income tax returns in their names to obtain large refunds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey.
The Treasury Department mailed more than 3,300 refund checks for the 2013 tax year to conspirators who used addresses in Pennsauken, the federal prosecutor’s office said.
The ring members paid U.S. Postal Service employees to divert the government checks before they reached the addresses, the statement said. They also paid “check couriers” to cash the tax refund checks at check-cashing businesses in and around Camden.
The couriers’ IDs included fake New Jersey driver’s licenses, fake Social Security cards, and fake Department of Homeland Security Permanent Resident identification cards, the statement said.
“In total, the scheme caused $565,091 in losses to the U.S. Treasury,” it said.
Ring members believed the scheme would go unnoticed because residents of Puerto Rico do not need to file federal income tax returns if their income is earned on the island.
Gutierrez pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to defraud the United States.
He admitted being part of a conspiracy that obtained 93 refund checks from a postal route in Pennsauken between April 2014 and August 2014.
Two other alleged ring members also have pleaded guilty, the…