Two arrested in large scale identity theft scheme

Dee DeQuattro

Two individuals from Providence were arrested on Friday for alleged involvement in a large scale identity theft operation after a joint investigation of the Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service, and the Secret Service.

28-year-old Jairo Morales and 44-year-old Juliana Martins were arrested from a second floor apartment on Indiana Avenue. Department of Homeland Security officers were present on scene around 6:30 a.m. sweeping through the home and the suspects vehicles. Four children were removed from the premises.

In addition officers combed through another first floor apartment on Chapin Avenue in Providence.

According to the U.S. Attorneys Office the individuals are believed to be involved in an identity theft scheme resulting in the receipt of $277,000 in fraudulent tax checks. Morales and Martins are accused of using social security information and other personal details of individuals to file tax returns in their names. Authorities say they then would receive tax return checks from the returns and cash them. The identity theft included individuals from as far as Puerto Rico and New Jersey and as close as Pawtucket and Providence.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says the theft began in June of 2011 and ended in August of 2012. Authorities began an investigation after one of the suspects returned to the country from abroad. The two are charged with aggravated identity theft, theft of government property, forging endorsements of treasury checks and money laundering.

They appeared before Magistrate Judge Sullivan in U.S. District Court on Friday afternoon and were released on unsecured bond.

(C) WLNE-TV 2013