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February 27, 2018

Woman Sentenced in Scheme Using Fictitious IRS Tax Liability

On January 5, 2018, in the Southern District of Florida, Doris Y. Ortega was sentenced for wire fraud1 in connection with a scheme involving the impersonation of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Ortega was initially indicted for the offense in June 20172 and pleaded guilty in October 2017.3

According to the court documents, Ortega knowingly devised a scheme to defraud and obtain money by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses in order to unjustly enrich herself by inducing victims to make payments for fictitious debts.4

As part of the scheme, Ortega contacted the victims in person and falsely represented that they would have to make mortgage payments to her to avoid foreclosure on a home and tax payments to the IRS to avoid criminal prosecution.5

Ortega informed the victims that the bank requested approximately $60,000 related to the foreclosure and directed one victim to sell a home in Guatemala in order to pay it. Unable to sell the home, the victim obtained an equity line of credit on the property in the amount of $20,000 and wired the funds to the United States as instructed by Ortega. Prior to the victim's return from Guatemala, Ortega advised that the victim would be arrested upon attempting to reenter the United States because of an IRS tax liability of around $28,000. The victims provided Ortega with $7,000, which she said would be enough for her to obtain clearance to allow the individual back into the U.S.6

Ortega later informed the victim that the remaining IRS tax liability of about $21,000 needed to be paid. Ortega supposedly applied two installments of $10,938 and $10,928 to the tax balance and sent a text message each time, purportedly from the IRS, stating the victim's payment had been received. In reality, Ortega did not forward any of the funds to the IRS, but rather retained the money for herself. The victims eventually visited an IRS office and learned that they had never had a tax liability, and that the text messages provided by Ortega had not come from the IRS.7

Ortega was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, to be served consecutively to the undischarged terms of imprisonment in several State cases. Upon release from imprisonment, Ortega will be on supervised release for three years. Additionally, she is ordered to pay $37,928.47 in restitution.8

    1 S.D. Fla. Judgment filed Jan. 5, 2018.
    2 S.D. Fla. Indict. filed June 14, 2017.
    3 S.D. Fla. Plea Agr. filed Oct. 11, 2017.
    4 S.D. Fla. Indict. filed June 14, 2017.
    5 Id.
    6 S.D. Fla. Factual Proffer filed Oct. 11, 2017.
    7 Id.
    8 S.D. Fla. Judgment filed Jan. 5, 2018.