Illegal immigrant sentenced in alleged tax refund scheme - WSMV News 4

Illegal immigrant sentenced in alleged tax refund scheme

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Federal prosecutors say they have unraveled an elaborate income tax scheme that stole hundreds of thousands of tax dollars.

Several people are accused of sending fake tax returns to the IRS, then funneling the money through a Nashville business.

U.S. Attorney David Rivera announced Monday that 37-year-old Juan Castro-Castro, who once lived in Shelbyville, KY, received the prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring with others to bring fraudulently acquired tax refunds to Nashville.

Authorities say testimony at the sentencing showed that Castro-Castro and others used false names to submit more than 100 fraudulent tax returns in Kentucky that claimed refunds were owed. The refund checks were mailed by the IRS to one of four Kentucky addresses.

Authorities say an accomplice in Nashville cashed the refund checks several times each week at Cash City on Nolensville Pike.

And, according to the feds, Castro-Castro had an accomplice who was an employee on the inside.

"Most of the fraudsters are not that smart. I mean, they are not technological gurus. They have just found weaknesses in the system and learned how to exploit them," said certified public accountant Victor Alexander. "And, most criminals, they share information amongst each other."

Castro-Castro and his Cash City partner weren't working alone. So far, 21 other people are facing charges.

In the end, the IRS sent almost $650,000 to the bad guys.

"It means, ultimately, you and I get to pay more in taxes," Alexander said.

The IRS then spent thousands more investigating the fraud.

"Unfortunately, the IRS has had a protocol in place that allowed monies to get out the door before information got verified," Alexander said.

And every single person in this alleged tax fraud ring is an illegal immigrant. Prosecutors say Castro-Castro is in the country illegally from Guatemala.

By now, you likely know to protect your personal information like your name Social Security number and your address.

But accountants also recommend filing your taxes early before criminals can file using your information - basically, beat the criminals to the punch.

In this case, Castro-Castro pleaded guilty, and 16 of his accomplices recently did the same.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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