A Cobb County man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for stealing the identities of thousands of people to file bogus tax refunds claiming more than $5 million, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Monday.
Mauricio Warner, 38, of Smyrna, was convicted in April of 16 counts of wire fraud, 16 counts of aggravated identity theft, 16 counts of filing false claims, and two counts of money laundering, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. On Monday, Warner was sentenced to prison followed by three years of supervised release, and must pay $5,041,869 in restitution, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. He must also forfeit seven bank accounts containing money from the scheme, Yates said.
“Lengthy prison sentences wait for the growing number of criminals who use other people’s personal information to file phony tax returns,” Yates said in an emailed statement. “Mr. Warner deceived over 5,000 victims to get his hands on their names and Social Security numbers, and then used their information to steal over $5 million in fraudulent tax refunds. He will now spend years behind bars and have to pay back his ill-gotten gains. As this sentence shows, tax fraud and identity theft are crimes that do not pay.”
From January 2011 to April 2012, Warner filed more than 5,000 false tax returns using the names and Social Security numbers of unsuspecting victims, according to prosecutors. Victims gave Warner their names and Social Security numbers believing they were applying for an “Obama stimulus payment” or “Free government money,” Yates’ office said.
Warner then used the victims’ identities to file phony tax forms and requested the IRS deposit the refunds into his accounts, according to testimony and evidence presented in court. He was taken into custody after his conviction.