Three former employees of J.P Morgan Chase Bank pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to participating in two separate tax refund schemes that used the identities of Puerto Rican citizens to obtain fraudulent tax returns.

In the first scheme, Katherine Torres, a former Chase branch manager, and Rosalind Smith, a former employee at the same branch, pled guilty to participating in a scheme that defrauded the Internal Revenue Service and New York State out of over $1 million. In the second scheme, Judith Fulgencio, a former personal banker at another Chase bank branch, pled guilty to participating in a scheme that also defrauded the IRS and New York State out of more than $1 million.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As bank employees on the take, these three defendants facilitated fraudulent tax schemes using the stolen identities of Puerto Rican citizens. Their conduct contributed to a national crime wave that is costing the IRS billions of dollars in lost revenue. Today's guilty pleas should serve as warnings to others who might contemplate aiding tax cheats that we will prosecute you to the full extent of the law.”

Although operated separately, the two schemes worked in similar fashion. Participants would unlawfully obtain identifying information, including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of Puerto Rican citizens. Their stolen identities would then be used to file fraudulent tax returns, claiming large refunds from New York State and the federal government. Participants in the scheme directed the resulting tax refund checks to addresses they controlled, or along specific mail routes assigned to U.S. Postal Service employees who had been bribed to pull the checks from the mail. The checks were then cashed at one of the two Chase bank branches at which the defendants who had been bribed to facilitate the transactions worked.

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