Bronx Tax Preparer Found Guilty Of Participation In Scheme To Steal Millions Using Fraudulent Tax Returns
Eliana Sarmiento Used Identities Stolen From A Medical Clinic In Puerto Rico To File False Tax Returns Using Victims’ Stolen Identities.
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Shantelle P. Kitchen, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), announced that ELIANA SARMIENTO, a former tax preparer at K&S Tax Solution, Inc. (“K&S”), was found guilty last Friday of multiple charges in connection with her participation in schemes to file fraudulent tax returns, in order to receive tax refunds in the form of checks and wire transfers. Together with her co-workers at K&S, SARMIENTO stole more than $19 million in tax refunds by submitting false tax returns using stolen identities, largely stolen from residents of Puerto Rico. To date, 14 employees and associates of K&S, in addition to SARMIENTO, have been convicted in connection with this scheme. SARMIENTO was convicted after a two-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment as well as the evidence presented during trial:
Since January 2010, SARMIENTO, along with her co-conspirators, perpetrated a large-scale scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) through the filing of fraudulent tax returns, so as to receive tax refunds in the form of checks and wire transfers. Specifically, SARMIENTO obtained stolen identities in part through one co-conspirator, based in Puerto Rico, who stole the identities of patients of a medical clinic in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She then obtained electronic filing identification numbers (“EFINs”), which are used for the purpose of filing hundreds of electronic tax returns, under the names of the victims of the defendants’ identity theft scheme. SARMIENTO and her co-conspirators used those EFINs to file tax returns bearing the names and Social Security Numbers (“SSNs) of additional identity theft victims. Additionally, SARMIENTO and other employees of K&S used the stolen identities of children as false “dependents” on the tax returns of certain K&S clients.
In these ways, SARMIENTO and others at K&S obtained millions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury. To date, and based on a subset of EFINs associated with SARMIENTO and her co-conspirators at K&S, the IRS has identified $281,348,627 in attempted fraudulent returns and $19,799,175 in Treasury funds successfully stolen by SARMIENTO and her criminal associates.
SARMIENTO, 32, of Passaic, New Jersey, was found guilty of two counts of theft of public funds, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; two counts of conspiring to steal public funds, each carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and two counts of aggravated identity theft, each carrying a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. The statutory maximum and minimum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the IRS-CI for its work in the investigation and expressed his appreciation to the United States Secret Service for its assistance.