Two people from central Ohio are being charged in a $1 million identity theft and false check scheme.
Jose Martinez of Columbus and Mercedes Emelinda-Silie of Grove City are facing multiple charges including identity theft, converting U.S. monies to their own use, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the U.S Department of Justice, the two allegedly conspired with people in New York to illegally use business checking accounts to cash fraudulently obtained IRS tax refund checks.
The indictment states that fraudulent tax returns were filed with the IRS seeking refunds for identities that were stolen from people living in Puerto Rico. The refund checks were then stolen from the mail when they were delivered to New York addresses. The government said the endorsements on the checks were then forged.
Investigators said that the crimes occurred over the last two years. The two allegedly cashed around $1 million in checks.
Martinez and Emelinda-Silie also allegedly provided check-cashing services even though neither of them, nor their business (San Isidro Cargo), was licensed in Ohio to operate as a check-cashing facility.
Martinez and Emelinda-Silie were indicted by a federal grand jury and will be summoned to appear for arraignment.
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