Florida Man Sentenced in Connection with IRS Imposter Scam
Inside Subprime: Oct 26, 2018
By Lindsay Frankel
A Florida man was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison without parole and ordered to forfeit $9 million in restitution for his leadership in an IRS imposter scam that harmed thousands of people. U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson named deterrence as a main reason for handing out a maximum sentence to Yosvany Padilla, 27. “I sincerely hope it will deter others. I wish I had a way of broadcasting that widely,” said Wilson.
Padilla pleaded guilty to wire-fraud conspiracy on January 3rd in Wilson’s Little Rock courtroom. U.S. Attorney Hunter Bridges said Padilla was responsible for coordinating the involvement of others. More than 7,000 people were impacted by the scam, which used the threat of arrest to get victims to wire money. Callers would claim to be U.S. government officials intending to sue or arrest the victim for tax debt if the recipient did not complete a wire transfer within two hours. Victims were then instructed to complete the transfer from their local Walmart store. The calls actually came from overseas call centers. Investigators estimate $10,735,762.61 in losses from the scam.
Wilson also sentenced two other people in connection with the IRS imposter scam. Esequiel Bravo Diaz, who pleaded guilty of defrauding 320 victims out of $115,690, was sentenced to 47 months for his relatively small role in the scam. Jeniffer Valerino Nunez, who has already served 29 months, was sentenced to an additional 16 months of jail time for her involvement. She defrauded victims out of about $2.2 million. Nunez, who was only 19 at the time of her crimes, may have been taken advantage of by her boyfriend, Dennis Delgado Caballero, who led a group responsible for collecting the money. “Mr. Caballero was a mastermind in recruiting young and impressionable immigrants to do his bidding,” said defense attorney Sonia Eileen Fonticiella. Three others are also awaiting sentencing.
Gary Smith of the Southern Field Division for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a news release, “Over the last several years, American taxpayers have been subjected to unprecedented attempts to fraudulently obtain money by individuals impersonating Internal Revenue Service employees.” He added that “today’s significant sentencings should serve notice to those who engage in this type of criminal activity that they will be held accountable.”
The best defense against IRS scams is consumer awareness. Scam artists may know a portion of your social security number, and they may use caller ID spoofing to make you think the call is coming from a Washington, D.C. number, but the IRS will never ask you to pay via wire transfer. If you do owe money in taxes, the IRS will contact you via mail. So if you receive a phone call requesting an immediate transfer, hang up and report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.