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California Resident Sentenced to Prison for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

Used Identities of Homeless Individuals to File Fraudulent Tax Returns

A California resident was sentenced to 25 months in prison for filing and conspiring to file fraudulent claims for income tax refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.

According to documents filed with the court, Trong Nguyen aka John Nguyen, 57, and his codefendant Diep Vo aka Nancy Vo, 74, used the identities of homeless and unemployed individuals in the San Jose, California area to file fraudulent claims for refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Vo went to homeless shelters and homeless encampments and falsely represented to individuals that she could get them money from a government program designed to assist people who had not worked in previous years. Vo convinced people to write down their names and social security numbers and to sign blank income tax returns. Vo and Nguyen then falsified the signed returns including bogus income and income tax amounts withheld and sought more than $1.5 million in refunds from the IRS. Vo and Nguyen directed the IRS to send the refund checks to private mailboxes they controlled.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Freeman also ordered Nguyen to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $700,816. Nguyen previously pleaded guilty in May. Vo also pleaded guilty and she is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 14.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and U.S. Attorney Stretch thanked special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, who conducted the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Newman and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Tax Division.

Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.