Posted: Feb 1, 2013 7:02 PM
Updated: Feb 1, 2013 7:24 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Five people have been indicted in a false tax return scheme.
The indictment alleges Judy Lynn McCune recruited members of her family, including her mother Loretta Ann McCune, sister Rania Ann Sanchez and sons Robert Gutierrez and Edward Gutierrez, in the scheme to prepare federal tax returns and cash United States Treasury refund checks in the name of dead people.
Federal officials allege the suspects filed nearly 350 falsified tax forms worth more than $750,000.
Federal officials said the swindle started in 2008.
"They knew that there would be nobody to claim that refund," tax preparer Melissa Castro said.
"If you file an income tax and someone files it with the same number ... somebody will respond saying, ‘I already filed ... there's identity theft and someone is using my documents.' But if the person is dead, then who's going to claim that?" Castro said.
Federal prosecutors said the group falsified W-2 forms and had the checks sent to them electronically or in the mail.
Castro said the Internal Revenue Service doesn't detect fraud immediately.
"If we file an income tax return, I can file a W-2 form and state you worked at a certain place and had certain taxes deducted ... the IRS hasn't received these documents from the employers yet," she said.
"The IRS may take two to three years to audit them. They'll find out that they never received that W-2 form from the employer and you already received that check. So that might have been how they did it," Castro said.