GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Federal officials in New Jersey arrested 14 people, including a woman from Grand Rapids, in what they say was a long-running tax refund fraud scheme.
Rosa Marmol was allegedly involved with 13 other people in a scheme that involved millions of dollars. The defendants come from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the scheme is one of the largest ever uncovered and involved more than 8,000 bogus income tax returns seeking more than $65 million in illegal refunds.
The defendants are charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and theft of government property. It's estimated the scheme created $11 million in losses.
The federal complaint describes criminals living lavish lifestyles using public money stolen from tax refunds. For example, federal authorities said, Roberto Diaz from New Jersey had a $1.6 million home, three Mercedes Benz vehicles, took expensive trips and gambled more than $250,000.
First, they would steal identities of Puerto Rican citizens to electronically file Form 1040 and get tax returns fraudulently, and then they allegedly bribed postal workers to deliver the checks and used fake identities to cash them.
The complaint alleges Marmol was employed by a check cashing and supermarket business called Tienda Guadalajara Jalisco. Between August 2011 and February 2012, she deposited -- at the direction of another person named in the federal complaint -- $1.7 million in tax refund checks into bank accounts controlled by the business.
Some members would sell the tax return checks at a reduced price. One of the network members even went as far as trying to purchase a check-cashing business to make getting the cash easier.
The employees at Tienda Guadalajara Jalisco told 24 Hour News 8 they don't know anything about the tax return checks or the $1.7 million allegedly funneled through the business.
They said Marmol is not around, but she is expected to make an appearance in federal court in Grand Rapids soon.
Federal complaint against Rosa Marmol et al (pdf)
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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