RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A Hemet man was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in an identity theft scheme where he and his co-conspirators collected more than $800,000 in false tax refunds.
Hemet resident, Raymond Salazar, 55, was sentenced on Monday, January 28, 2019, and was ordered to pay $298,693 in restitution. His sentencing came months after a guilty plea in August 2018. Salazar pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Three other defendants who were involved in the scene will be sentenced in March 2019, including Charlene Castrejon, 60, of Hemet, Rebecca Mona Sandoval, 35, of San Jacinto, and Robert Manuel Gamboa, Jr., known as Paul Timothy Garcia, 31, of Highland.
Court records show that the group of defendants obtained names, dates of birth and social security numbers of victims without their consent. “The conspirators then used their victims’ identities to prepare and file false and fraudulent federal income tax returns that contained false income, dependent, earned income credit, education credit and child tax credit information, court documents state,” said Department of Justice officials.
One instance was in January 2013, when the defendants used the identity of one victim and filed a false 2012 return. The return stated an inaccurate income for the victim and that the victim’s disabled nephew was the victim’s dependent. The return falsely stated that the identity theft victim was entitled to an earned income tax credit and refund of $3,169, according to Salazar’s plea agreement. The refund payments were collected and put into taxpayer debit cards, that the defendants controlled. The defendants obtained around $569,334.26 from the IRS. Inside Salazar’s home, the group had at least 15 credit and debit cards belonging to the victims, as well as social security numbers.
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