Bergen County man admits filing 18 phony tax returns to obtain tax refunds

 

Date: March 2, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Newark, NJ  — A Bergen County, New Jersey, man today admitted filing 18 fraudulent tax returns in victims' names to obtain tax refunds to which he was not entitled, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Emmanuel A. Barrientos-Fermin of Tenafly, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to an indictment charging him with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Barrientos-Fermin admitted that from January 2020 through February 2020, he and others conspired to use stolen personal identifying information (PII) to submit fraudulent tax returns in victims' names to obtain tax refunds without the victims' knowledge or consent. A conspirator (CC-1) obtained falsified Social Security cards, driver's licenses, birth certificates and W-2 forms bearing the victims' stolen PII. The conspirator provided the documents to Barrientos-Fermin and others, who would use fraudulently obtained PII to file tax returns at various tax preparation company branches, posing as the victims.

Barrientos-Fermin admitted that he entered into an agreement in which CC-1 would pay him $200 to enter tax preparation companies posing as the victims to file tax returns in their names. Barrientos-Fermin provided CC-1 a photo of himself and CC-1, in turn, provided Barrientos-Fermin with driver's licenses bearing Barrientos-Fermin's photos and the victims' PII. CC-1 also provided Barrientos-Fermin with matching Social Security cards, W-2s, and sometimes birth certificates. Barrientos-Fermin admitted going into tax preparation locations pretending to be the victims and providing the false documents to the tax preparers to prepare and file the fraudulent tax returns. After submitting each fraudulent tax return and collecting advance refund debit cards, Barrientos-Fermin provided CC-1 the debit cards in exchange for cash payments of about $200 per return.

The count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and the count of access device fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The count of aggravated identity theft carries a statutory minimum term of imprisonment of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed. All the counts also carry a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the offenses, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark and postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero in Newark, with the investigation leading to today's guilty plea. She also thanked the Totowa, New Jersey, Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Carmen Veneziano, for its assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Farhat of the Government Fraud Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Criminal Division in Newark.