May 24, 2016
TIGTA – 2016-15
Contact: Karen Kraushaar, Director of Communications
Five Individuals Arrested for Fraud in IRS Phone Scams
WASHINGTON — J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), announced the arrests of five individuals based upon criminal complaints alleging that they were involved in schemes to impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents and use the threat of arrest to obtain money from victims by falsely representing that the victims owed back taxes or other fees.
TIGTA agents arrested the five suspects in Miami, FL, without incident on May 23, 2016, for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to the court documents, the suspects are responsible for almost $2 million in schemes that defrauded more than 1,500 victims.
“These arrests indicate that TIGTA is making significant progress in our investigation of the IRS impersonation scam that continues to sweep the country, resulting in reported taxpayer losses of more than $36 million, averaging more than $5,700 in losses per taxpayer,” the Inspector General said. “The scammers are relentless and so are we,” he added. “Our investigators will not rest until we have brought each individual involved to justice.”
The five individuals are: Jennifer Valerino Nunez, Dennis Delgado Caballero, Arnoldo Perez Mirabal, Yaritza Espinosa Diaz, and Roberto Fontanella Caballero. The criminal complaints were filed with the following courts: the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on May 18, 2016 (Yaritza Diaz and Roberto Caballero); the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on May 16, 2016 (Arnoldo Mirabal); and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on May 10, 2016 (Jennifer Nunez and Dennis Caballero).
According to the court documents, the suspects knowingly conspired with others to commit wire fraud by falsely impersonating IRS agents and demanding money under such false pretenses. Victims received telephone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, who told them the IRS would arrest them if they did not make payment immediately. The callers made these threats and used other methods of intimidation to persuade the victims to wire money, utilizing MoneyGram, Walmart–2–Walmart, and other wire services.
“No legitimate United States Treasury or IRS official will demand that anyone make payments via MoneyGram, Western Union, Walmart–2–Walmart, or any other money wiring method, for any debt to the IRS or the Department of the Treasury,” George said.
“Nor will the Department of the Treasury demand that anyone pay a debt or secure one by using iTunes cards or other prepaid debit cards,” he said, adding, “Hang up on these fraudulent callers and go to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) scam reporting page to report the call.”
Investigators verified the identity of the suspects and their activities through a variety of investigative procedures. TIGTA Special Agents conducted the investigations that led to the arrests of the suspects. TIGTA received assistance in one of the investigations from the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging led by Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri).
The suspects have been referred to the appropriate Office of the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, for prosecution and additional legal action.