New Jersey woman and crew filed more than 3,300 fraudulent tax returns in 2014, authorities said

A Camden County woman who was part of a scheme to steal more than half a million dollars by assuming people’s identities to file fraudulent tax returns and cash tax refund checks was sentenced Monday to more than 13 years in federal prison.

Awilda Henriquez, 36, of Clementon, will spend 159 months behind bars for her part in a scam that used stolen identifying information from people to file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, get tax refund checks, and cash them, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Selinger said in a statement.

Last December, after a 10-day trial, Henriquez was convicted of 13 counts of theft of government money and 13 counts of aggravated identity theft, along with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and steal U.S. mail, Selinger said.

A call to Henriquez’s attorney, Troy Archie, was not immediately returned.

In 2014, Henriquez and a crew of more than 10 people ran a complex scheme to steal government identification documents, use them to file fake tax returns, and employ people to steal the tax refund checks, including Postal Service mail carriers, according to court documents.

Henriquez provided some of the runners, people the crew employed to cash the fraudulently obtained checks, with documents that included green cards, Social Security cards, and New Jersey identification cards, court documents said.

The team of thieves used identities stolen from residents of Puerto Rico, prosecutors said. Puerto Rican residents are generally not required to file U.S. federal income tax returns as long as their only sources of income in a tax year are from within Puerto Rico.

Henriquez and the crew would pay mail carriers for checks they provided and the runners for every check they cashed, using fake IDs that matched the checks, according to court documents. The crew would also pay off employees at check-cashing businesses to continue the chain of fraud, according to court documents.

The crew, including Henriquez, filed more than 3,300 tax returns for the 2013 tax year using the stolen identities and had the refund checks mailed to Pennsauken, the documents said. Henriquez embezzled 13 tax refund checks that were all more than $5,500 each.

In sentencing Henriquez on Monday, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler also ordered three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay back $565, 091.