Routine Traffic Stop Uncovers $1.8 Million Dollar Tax Fraud Scheme

Richard Lara of Providence, Rhode Island appeared before the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on December 4, 2014 to receive his sentence to federal prison after pleading guilty to charges of aggravated identity theft, theft of government property, and conspiracy.  Lara along with Julian Balbi conspired to commit a massive tax fraud scheme for a million dollar payoff. Balbi, who plead guilty in June, was sentenced on September 18, 2014. The young men, both 23, stole identifying information of over 1,200 taxpayers, including names, social security numbers, etc.  With that stolen information, the men proceeded to fraudulently file tax returns amounting to more than 1.8 million dollars in illegal tax refunds. The tax fraud scheme probably would have been successful had both Lara and Balbi not been pulled over in a routine traffic stop where  the police uncovered hundreds of tax refund checks issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury totaling approximately 1.8 million dollars in the trunk of the criminals’ car.