A former Internal Revenue Service employee was arrested and charged with participating in an identity theft conspiracy that used information stolen from the files of other IRS employees.
The former IRS employee, Viririana Hernandez, 30, was arrested Tuesday at her mother’s home in Parlier, Calif., and charged with identity theft conspiracy, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner’s office.
Her co-defendants Roberto Martinez, 33, and Lilliana Gonzalez, 32, both of Fresno, were also arrested at their residence Tuesday morning. All three defendants were arraigned Tuesday and entered pleas of not guilty. Martinez was released from custody with electronic monitoring. Hernandez and Gonzalez remain in custody and had a detention hearing on Thursday. Arraignment for a fourth defendant, Daniel Miranda, 25, has not yet been scheduled.
On July 18, 2014, a federal grand jury in Fresno returned a 23-count indictment, charging the defendants with conspiracy, bank and wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Miranda was also charged with mail fraud.
According to the indictment, from June 2012 to January 2014, the four conspirators obtained personal information from victims through various methods. Hernandez worked for the IRS since 2006 and had access to the personal information of IRS workers. Several of the victims are current or former IRS workers.
Without the victims’ permission, they opened credit card accounts in the victims’ names or added themselves as “authorized users” of the victims’ existing accounts. The conspirators then used the accounts to buy goods and services at locations throughout the Fresno area, as well as in Modesto and Riverside County. In total, the four conspirators allegedly misused the personal information of approximately 160 victims and attempted fraudulent credit card charges of more than $1.2 million.
The case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michael G. Tierney is prosecuting the case.
“Identity theft is a nationwide crisis that places a heavy burden on the victim and creates chaos in the victims’ lives,” said Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration San Francisco Field Division special agent-in-charge Rod Ammari in a statement. “When an IRS employee is involved in stealing information through their employment at the IRS and facilitating identity theft rings, it will not be tolerated and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration will use all its power and resources to ensure these criminals are brought to justice.”
If the defendants are convicted, they each face up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.