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Cops: Two Arrested for a Tax Refund that Wasn't

A U.S. Treasury tax refund check they wanted to cash was itself real, but the tax return had been forged, according to police.

Cesar Pensone-Perez, 28, of 622 Water St., Manhattan, was charged with forgery and related crimes by Darien police (Darien police arrest photo)
Cesar Pensone-Perez, 28, of 622 Water St., Manhattan, was charged with forgery and related crimes by Darien police (Darien police arrest photo)
A man and woman from New Jersey were arrested after they tried to cash a U.S. Treasury check for a tax refund that had been part of a phony tax return, according to police.

Darien police gave this account (an accusation not proven in court) of the matter:

Cesar Pensone-Perez, 28, of 622 Water St., Manhattan, and Socorro Deleon-Toribio 37, of 1425 Nelson Ave., the Bronx, had opened an account at TDBank at 55 Post Rd. on March 15, each using false names, with phony identification.

Deleon-Toribio's name actually belongs to a woman in Puerto Rico. A fake tax return in the Puerto Rican woman's name had been filed using an address in Trenton, NJ.

After the $8,879 tax refund was mailed to the Trenton address, the pair came to Darien to get it cashed.

They deposited $40 in the account, then Deleon-Toribio tried to deposit the refund check.

Bank personnel were suspicious (the reason for their suspicion was not clear in the Darien police account).

On March 17, Pensone-Perez and Deleon-Toribio were back at the bank to ask why the account had been frozen. TDBank officials had directed the bank manager to notify local police immediately, and Darien police came to the bank to find the pair sitting in an office.

On Pensone-Perez, police found what looked like an identity card from the Dominican Republic, but with a New Jersey operator's license on the back of the card -- for a person with a different name. He also had someone else's Social Security card on him.

The case was turned over to the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, a group of law enforcement officials including U.S. Treasury agents as well as state and local police.

Darien police were told that a widespread, ongoing scam exists in which the names and Social Security numbers of Puerto Rican residents were used to file fake tax returns to get refund checks sent to addresses different from the Puerto Ricans.

The resulting refund checks are sometimes sold on the street for a percentage of their face value. Pensone-Perez and Deleon-Toribio are thought to be part of a crew that tries to convert the checks to cash using phony names.

Pensone-Perez was charged with second-degree forgery, criminal impersonation, criminal attempt to commit third-degree larceny and second-degree conspiracy to commit ID theft. He was held on $100,000 bond and was due to appear March 27 in state Superior Court in Stamford.

Deleon-Toribio was arrested under the same charges, but her bond was initially set at $50,000, which may reflect a lower level of involvement in the conspiracy. 

Update, Friday, March 28:

This news release about a Bridgeport man's guilty plea describes the same scheme police recounted in the Darien case:

BRIDGEPORT MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ROLE IN FRAUDULENT FEDERAL TAX REFUND SCHEME          

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that Carlos Mateo, 45, of Bridgeport, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford to one count of theft of government property stemming from his role in a fraudulent federal tax refund scheme.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between November 2011 and February 2012, Mateo obtained fraudulent U.S. Treasury tax refund checks, ranging in amounts of approximately $4,000 to $8,150, which were addressed to different individuals with mailing addresses in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Florida. 

All of the Social Security Numbers used for the tax returns involved in the scheme belong to Puerto Rican citizens. 

MATEO provided the checks to Jeovany Rios, who cashed the checks at GE Credit Union branches in Bridgeport, Milford and Danbury with the assistance of Angel Castellano, a teller at the credit union. 

Rios then returned some of the cash to Mateo after taking a portion for himself and Castellano. In total, Mateo provided Rios with 21 fraudulent tax refund checks totaling $137,860.70.

Mateo is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny on June 20, 2014, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Rios, 39, and Castellano, 26, both of Bridgeport, previously pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala.

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