A Houston, Texas, man was sentenced to more than two years in prison today for his role in a stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) scheme, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo, head of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.
Denzel Roberts, 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes of the Southern District of Texas to serve 24 months in prison followed by a two year term of supervised release. Judge Hughes ordered Roberts to pay $74,341 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In May, Roberts pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public money.
“The Justice Department is committed to aggressively prosecuting those who participate in schemes to steal personal information, infiltrate databases and assume identities in an effort to prepare and file fictitious tax returns seeking to line their pockets with fraudulently obtained refunds,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo. “Individuals like Mr. Roberts, who receive the fraudulent refunds, especially through opening bank accounts in fictitious names, play key roles in these illegal schemes and substantially contribute to the loss to the U.S. Treasury and the damage inflicted on identity theft victims. Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to seek lengthy prison terms and substantial monetary penalties for those who engage in this criminal conduct.”
“Today’s sentencing of Denzel Roberts for his role in a stolen identity refund fraud ring emphasizes how seriously IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and our law enforcement partners take the issue of identity theft,” said Chief Richard Weber for IRS-CI. “Mr. Roberts may have thought that he would not get caught while acting as a conduit for ill-gotten gains, but he will now pay the price for stealing funds from the American tax system and honest citizens.”
According to court documents, Roberts participated in a scheme that used stolen personal identification information to file false federal income tax returns for tax year 2014. Participants in the scheme obtained means of identification of actual individuals, including their names and social security numbers, and used this information to access the IRS’s “Get Transcript” database. Using the stolen identities and information obtained from the Get Transcript database, other members of the scheme prepared and filed false tax returns fraudulently requesting refunds. Roberts admitted using a fraudulent passport to open several bank accounts into which the refunds were deposited. Roberts then withdrew the illicit proceeds, retaining a portion of the money as a fee and providing the remainder of the funds to others.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Magidson thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI Houston Area Cyber Crime Task Force, who investigated the case and Trial Attorneys Michael Boteler and Grace Albinson of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Sledge of the Southern District of Texas.