11 indicted in tax fraud case

ANCHORAGE — Eleven people have been indicted in an identity theft conspiracy, accused of stealing more than 2,600 identifications of Puerto Rico residents and trying to obtain about $19 million in false U.S. tax return claims, federal officials said Thursday.

The indictment also accused the 11 of tax fraud and cocaine distribution, KTUU reported.

Federal authorities allege the 11 stole some identities by stealing mail from Anchorage mailboxes. Another 2,600 identities of Puerto Rico residents, including names and Social Security numbers, were obtained from three stolen laptops.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says the IDs were then used to claim millions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds.

“Today’s indictment is a clear warning that anyone who steals the identities of innocent taxpayers and uses that information for personal profit will be aggressively pursued, investigated and prosecuted in Alaska or throughout the United States,” Karen Loeffler, the U.S. Attorney for Alaska, said in a statement.

Conspirators in New Jersey and Puerto Rico sent refund checks to Anchorage, where they were cashed. One bank employee has been charged with helping defendants open accounts under fake names and cashing a forged U.S. Treasury check.

Federal officials also claim the defendants allegedly used the false names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to get Alaska driver’s licenses.

All defendants are residents of either the Dominican Republic or Mexico.

Named in the indictment were Joel Jose Santana-Pierna, Abel Santana-Pierna, Misael Polanco-Villa, Nicolas Jimenez-Sanchez, Isaac Amparo-Vasquez, Randin Paredes Henriquez, Wedys Ramirez-Javier, Samuel Peguero, Fatima Aguilar-Martinez and Hilda Josephine Hernandez McMullen. Also named was John Doe, described as an unidentified person with several aliases, including Japhet Soto Santiago, Luis Angel Cortes Decodet, Steeven Joan Vidal-Alomara and Kiki.

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