Breaking: Seven Arrested in Mexican-US Tax Fraud Sting

A number of arrests have been made at the Dona Ana County Clerk’s office in Las Cruces, NM in regards to a federal check cashing scheme. The parties arrested were allegedly using stolen identities and fraudulent notarized documents to obtain federal refund checks. Lead investigator, Detective Ken Roberts said the arrests have a connection to the U.S. Treasury.

On Friday, Maria L. Ceniceros, a document technician for the county clerk’s office, was charged with 113 counts of forgery, fraud and identity theft. Maria’s husband, Francisco Ceniceros and daughter Denise Ceniceros were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. Maria was allegedly receiving federal tax return checks from a source in Juarez, Mexico. A fourth arrest was made on Friday but the name has not been released.

Three others were arrested today for their involvement in the scheme making a total of 7 arrests.

LC Sun News reported on the recent arrests:

Reena Rodriguez, clerk’s office recording and licensing lead, who’s worked for the county since October 2007

Nadia Martinez, a document technician who’s worked for the county since September 2012

Emilia S. Gomez, a document technician who’s worked for the county since March 2005

The signatures of the identity theft victims on the checks were forged, according to court records.

About noon Monday, County Sheriff Enrique “Kiki” Vigil said seven people — four Friday and three Monday — have been arrested so far as part of a sting operation checking into the alleged scam, which has the same roots as one that resulted in arrests in El Paso a few months ago.

“It’s part of the same ring operating out of Mexico,” he said. “Now it’s reached out to our county government here.”

In March, Elizabeth Garcia de Nieto from Mexico was arrested for two counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, conspiracy, two counts of aiding and abetting theft of public money and three counts of mail fraud. She was accused of filing false U.S. tax returns and receiving almost a million dollars in refund checks.

NM Politics has more on the story.

UPDATE: Armando Gutierrez Torrez was the 7th person arrested, he allegedly brought Maria Ceniceros the federal checks from Mexico. Dona Ana District Attorney D’Antonio called this one of the largest identity theft investigations in the southwest and maybe the country.”

UPDATE: FOX14 reported on the tax fraud scheme tonight.

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