A Southern California couple has been indicted on charges of conspiracy to file false tax returns, mail fraud and identity theft after they were found to have filed for refunds of over $300,000 using stolen identities.

A federal grand jury indicted Abelardo Argote and his wife Dora Argote on April 14.  According to the indictment, between January 2002 and June 2007, the Argotes conspired with others to obstruct the assessment and collection of federal taxes by filing fraudulent tax returns using the names, Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers of other individuals.

To make the false tax returns appear legitimate, the Argotes would attach fake IRS Forms W-2 and W-2G to them and request refunds of the purported tax withholdings listed on the IRS forms. In one instance, the Argotes requested a tax refund check in the amount of $204,075.54. 

According to the indictment, the Argotes also filed false tax returns in their own names. In 2003, Dora Argote filed a false tax return in her own name, claiming she worked for Healthsmart in 2002 and was entitled to a $6,083 tax refund. The next year, her husband filed a false return claiming he worked at J.C. Penny and was entitled to a $6,332 tax refund. The indictment alleges that the Argotes requested as much as $308,423 in fraudulent tax refunds.

On April 28, 2009, the same grand jury that charged the Argotes also charged Sigbert Adler for participating in a similar scheme between December 2005 and May 2006. According to that indictment, Sigbert Adler, Anthony Del Rosario, Lee Del Rosario and Nelson Mauricio Ardon conspired to defraud the U.S. with respect to claims totaling $199,267.

Adler allegedly solicited the Del Rosarios and Ardon to provide their names, Social Security numbers and mailing addresses to an individual known as “I.S.” Adler told the Del Rosarios that I.S. would use their personal information to prepare false 1040 returns, claiming that the Del Rosarios and Ardon were entitled to the tax refunds based on fictitious gambling winnings and losses. They allegedly received the tax refund checks, deposited the money in their bank accounts, and wrote checks to pay back Adler and I.S. as instructed.

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