Mar 12, 2013, 4:10pm EDT
John George
Senior Reporter- Philadelphia Business Journal

A Chester Springs, Pa., couple was charged Tuesday with tax fraud and participating in an alleged identity theft scheme in which they sought more than $1.7 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Rafael Henriquez Polanco, 30, and his wife Yanira Lopez, 27, alleged obtained the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of patients of Community Hospital in Chester, Pa., and Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa., by paying employees of the hospitals to steal confidential medical forms.

The couple then allegedly used the stolen identities to file fraudulent individual income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service claiming fraudulent refunds.

The Information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office further alleges that Polanco and Lopez opened several bank accounts, and paid others to open bank accounts, using false identities for the purpose of depositing the fraudulently procured tax refund checks. Lopez, a former bank teller, allegedly used her knowledge of bank procedures to further this aspect of the scheme.

The U.S. Attorney Office alleged that between Feb. 23, 2009, and Sept.16, 2011, the defendants caused the Department of the Treasury to issue federal tax refund checks totaling $257,710.79.

Lopez also allegedly devised a scheme, between Oct. 26, 2008, and May 18, 2010, to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits from the state when she was employed full time at Brandywine Maintenance Inc., in Spring City, Pa, where she allegedly worked under the alias “Leslie Serrano.”

Polanco, who is identified as an illegal alien from the Dominican Republic, and Lopez are each charged with conspiracy to defraud the government, aggravated identity theft, passport fraud, and presentation of an immigration application containing a false statement. Lopez was additionally charged with wire fraud. Polanco was separately charged by indictment with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base also known as crack.

The case was investigated by the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, the Department of Labor, the IRS Criminal Investigations, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Brenner and Maureen McCartney.

Couple charged in ID theft, tax fraud case - Philadelphia Business Journal