A federal grand jury in Erie, Pa., has indicted 18 individuals on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to the 13-count superseding indictment, the 18 individuals allegedly stole identities, submitted fraudulent federal tax returns, and stored the refunds in bank accounts that were opened using stolen identities.
The conspirators allegedly stole identity information on the internet and traded it with each other via email, the indictment alleges, adding roughly $38 million was sought from the IRS between 2010 and 2013, and the IRS paid at least $10 million in fraudulent refunds.
“The indictment also alleges that approximately 3,493 bank accounts were opened using stolen identities, affecting approximately 443 financial institutions, and that approximately 4,563 credit cards were obtained using stolen identities,” a release states. “Approximately 11,468 individuals are alleged in the indictment to have been victimized.”