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November 15, 2022

Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Conspiracy in Connection With an IRS Impersonation Scheme

On September 16, 2022, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Ronnell Taylor, Jr., pled guilty to wire fraud conspiracy. 

According to the court documents, beginning in March 2016 and continuing through August 2017, Taylor and his codefendants, Michael Galanis and Barry Nealer, participated in a scheme involving placing calls to victims in the United States and impersonating employees from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Taylor supplied prepaid Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, instructions on how to activate the SIM cards, and instructions on how to program cell phone numbers associated with the SIM cards to automatically forward calls to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone numbers to facilitate the scheme to the codefendants.

Then, the impersonators left voicemails instructing their victims to contact the IRS at specific phone numbers.  When unsuspecting victims called the numbers provided, their calls would automatically forward to the VoIP phone numbers, and then route to the IRS impersonators, who extorted money from the victims.  Victims were directed to wire money, or purchase stored value cards, or gift cards to pay the alleged tax debts.  In total, the victims of the scheme provided approximately $89,000 to the IRS impersonators.

Taylor is scheduled to be sentenced on January 17, 2023.  At sentencing, Taylor could receive a maximum term of 20 years’ imprisonment and up to three years of supervised release.

Source:  The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: W.D. Pa., Indict., filed January 16, 2020; W.D. Pa., Change of Plea Hearing, filed September 19, 2022; and W.D. Pa., Sentencing Order, filed September 19, 2022.