Five People Arrested in Connection with IRS Phone Scam

TIGTA logoOn Tuesday, May 24th, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) J. Russell George announced that five people were arrested as part of a continuing investigation into Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phone call scams.

According to George, the following people were arrested in Miami, Florida, by TIGTA agents on Monday, May 23rd: Roberto Fontanella Caballero, Dennis Delgado Caballero, Yaritza Espinosa Diaz, Jennifer Valerino Nunez, and Arnoldo Perez Mirabal. Their arrests went smoothly. Criminal complaints were filed against each suspect. On May 10th, 2016, criminal complaints were filed against Jennifer Nunez and Dennis Caballero in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. On May 16th, 2016, criminal complaints against Arnoldo Mirabal were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. On May 18th, 2016, criminal complaints were filed against Yaritza Diaz and Roberto Caballero in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Each suspect allegedly played a part in schemes in which IRS agents were impersonated and taxpayers were threatened with arrest if they did not pay back taxes they were made to believe they owed. Court documents state that the suspects allegedly got nearly $2 million from over 1,500 victims.

George issued the following statement regarding the arrest of the five suspects, “These arrests indicate that TIGTA is making significant progress in our investigation of the IRS impersonation scam that continues to sweep the country, resulting in reported taxpayer losses of more than $36 million, averaging more than $5,700 in losses per taxpayer… The scammers are relentless and so are we… Our investigators will not rest until we have brought each individual involved to justice.”

Court documents state that the five suspects “knowingly conspired with others to commit wire fraud by falsely impersonating IRS agents and demanding money under such false pretenses.” People who said they were from the IRS called the victims and threatened to arrest them if they did not pay right away. In addition, the callers intimidated the victims in order to get them to wire money via MoneyGram, Walmart-2-Walmart, and more.

George reminded taxpayers that IRS and United States Treasury officials will never demand payments through wire services. George said, “No legitimate United States Treasury or IRS official will demand that anyone make payments via MoneyGram, Western Union, Walmart–2–Walmart, or any other money wiring method, for any debt to the IRS or the Department of the Treasury.” He went on to say, “Nor will the Department of the Treasury demand that anyone pay a debt or secure one by using iTunes cards or other prepaid debit cards… Hang up on these fraudulent callers and go to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) scam reporting page to report the call.”

The suspects’ identities were verified through investigations by TIGTA Special Agents. The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging led by Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) helped with one of the investigations. Further legal action and prosecution of the suspects will be done by the Office of the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice.

The arrests of the five suspects come after a man who was considered to be the “ringleader” of a similar IRS phone scam was sentenced to 175 months in Manhattan Federal Prison on July 8th, 2015. Sahil Patel ran several “call centers” which were located in India. Through the call centers, Patel and others involved in the scam impersonated law enforcement officials in the U.S. and threatened to arrest victims in order to get money out of them. In addition to a prison sentence, Patel had to forfeit $1 million. Patel, along with his co-conspirators, got $1.2 million or more from their victims.

The IRS phone scam has hit our area as recently as April.


Port Treverton Couple Wanted on Weapon and Drug Charges Captured in CA

A Port Treverton, Snyder County couple who were wanted for alleged sexual assaults and for charges related to allegedly growing marijuana plants in their garage, as well as charges related to allegedly possessing a gun with a homemade silencer, have been apprehended in California.

According to Snyder County Sheriff John Zechman, 42-year-old Craig Poust and 24-year-old Chanel Kantz were apprehended in Siskiyou County, California. Although the couple was free on bail related to the weapon and drug charges, they were allegedly on the run since posting bail. According to The Daily Item in a report, Poust had met his $50,000 bail on March 3rd after the Reading-based A plus Bonds paid it. The couple will be extradited back to Pennsylvania, according to Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch. According to Zechman, a confidential informant who noticed the warrant on the county sheriff’s website realized they saw Poust and Kantz in California.

A search warrant which the Pennsylvania State Police in Selinsgrove filed stated that Poust and Kantz allegedly drugged, sexually assaulted, and took pictures of at least four women ages 19-24 between the fall of 2013 and January 2016. The alleged sexual assaults took place at the couple’s home as well as in a camper on their Silvercreek Road property. According to a report from The Daily Item, police searched for sexually explicit photos of Poust, Kantz, and another person when they executed the search warrant at the end of February. They also looked for cameras, computer equipment, as well as prescription medication that has the capability to “incapacitate” people’s mental or physical state. A Go Pro Hero camera, other cameras, computers, cellphones, and data storage devices were among the items seized by police.

A search warrant states that two victims allegedly drank alcohol at the couple’s home during the fall of 2014 and that they allegedly got more intoxicated then they would expect given the amount of alcohol they were given. The women also stated that they were half conscious, and that they remember Poust ordering them to do sexual acts to each other as well as Kantz. The women stated that they knew pictures were being taken. Another victim, who is 19, stated that the couple allegedly gave her alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and pills. The woman said that she frequently passed out at the home when she visited them during the fall of 2013. The woman said that although she did not want to engage in sexual contact with the couple, she was allegedly shown a sexually explicit picture of herself and Kantz.

Police also allegedly found 20 marijuana plants in the garage when they were executing the search warrant. Police also allegedly found a flower pot with a significant amount of marijuana that was cultivated, climate-controlled devices, and growing lights. In addition, police allegedly found a Smith and Wesson .22-caliber handgun. The gun was registered to Kantz. An oil filter that was made into a gun silencer was also allegedly found.

Poust is facing the following felony charges: 2nd degree Possession Of Firearm Prohibited; Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver; Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver; and Conspiracy – Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver. Poust is also facing the following misdemeanor charges: Int Poss Contr Subst By Per Not Reg; 1st degree Make Repairs/Sell/Etc Offens Weap; and Use/Poss Of Drug Paraph. In regards to the weapon charge, court records state that Poust was convicted of felony aggravated assault in 1997.

Kantz is facing the following felony charges: Conspiracy – Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver; Int Poss Contr Subst By Per Not Reg; and Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver. Kantz is also facing the following misdemeanor charges: Use/Poss Of Drug Paraph; and 1st degree Make Repairs/Sell/Etc Offens Weap.

Although the couple was released on bail, they were allegedly on the run until their recent capture. Please remember that the accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.


Man Thrown From ATV in West Branch Township Crash, DUI Suspected

One person was injured when they were thrown from an ATV in a suspected DUI crash that occurred in Potter County’s West Branch Township on Sunday, May 29th.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police in Coudersport in a report, a 22-year-old man from Lancaster was driving a 2005 Honda Rincon in a south direction on Notch Road. After the man performed an unknown maneuver, he was thrown from the ATV and landed on the roadway. The ATV rolled over before rolling down an embankment on the roadway’s west side. The crash occurred about .5 miles to the south of West Branch Road at approximately 6:00 p.m.

The man, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered head and shoulder injuries of unknown severity. He was taken to Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital via Galeton Ambulance. The man was charged with a moving violation, and DUI charges are pending the results of a blood test.

June 3rd Wellsboro First Friday

The June Wellsboro First Friday is on Friday, June 3rd and it will have an “Earth Day Every Day” theme. There will be shopping specials, a scavenger hunt, a contest, food, music, art, and much more.

There will be several shopping specials during the June 3rd Wellsboro First Friday event. At the Fifth Season, you can get a coupon for 15% off any regular priced item when you bring a gently used clothing item. Your gently used clothing item will be donated to Seeds of Hope. In addition, there will be a 15% off sale on picnic products, backyard BBQ products, cookie cutters, etc. There will also be a buy one, get one 1/2 off sale. While you shop at the Fifth Season, you can sample cookies and dips. Shabby Rue is having a $10 table. There will also be secret savings in the store. People participating in the scavenger hunt also get something. There will be a 30% off sale on Bug Bungalow, Butterfly Garden and Bug Magnifier at Pop’s Culture Shoppe. Country Ski & Sports will have a 15% off sale on everything between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. In addition, there will be a $25 off sale on used bikes. There will be a 10% off sale on all Patagonia products, including items on sale, at Wild Asaph Outfitters. Patagonia makes fleece clothing out of recycled plastic bottles. In addition, Patagonia donates some of the sales to preserving and restoring the environment. Any flavor frappuccino at Cafe 1905 will only be $3.

The scavenger hunt features a crossword puzzle on each side of the sheet. If you complete one puzzle, you will have a chance to win one of twelve prizes. If you complete both puzzles, you will double your chances of winning. Prizes are donated by local businesses. To get a sheet, simply stop in at any local business listed on the sheet.

The Sidewalk Chalk Contest will take place in front of Stained Glass Reflections. The contest is being facilitated by Apryl Tubbs and the Tioga County Partnership for Community Health. Three prizes will be awarded. Peggy’s Candies & Gifts had donated all of the prizes for the contest. Every participant will receive an “I’m and Artist!” badge.

There will be several activities at the June 3rd Wellsboro First Friday. You can make a pine cone bird feeder at Wild Asaph Outfitters. Make a flower pot craft at The Fifth Season. Dunham’s Department Store will have earth-friendly Green Toys Treasure Chest toys for the kids to play with at Cafe 1905. There will also be Kinetic Sand and water friendly toys. Kids may also pick out a prize from the “prize garden”. Boy Scout Troop 24 will have a knot tying demonstration at the Ginn & Vickery Law Office. Ropes and instruction sheets will be given so participants can practice knot tying at home. While you are there, you can buy meat sticks from the troop to help them raise money for a summer trip to Washington, DC. For a donation to the Animal Care Sanctuary, you can get a personalized engraved tag for your dog from Senior’s Creations on Main Street. The Animal Care Sanctuary will also have dogs to pet. You can play “Happy Salmon” at Pop’s Culture Shoppe during Game Night. You can get a free chair massage and possibly a manicure at Emerge Healing Arts & Spa in front of The Red Skillet.

There will be music and art at the June 3rd First Friday as well. Jesse Gotschal, AKA The Road Virus will be playing in front of Pop’s Culture Shoppe, and Artist Josh Crane will be displaying his painted art. A drum circle is being hosted by Liz Carras and Julie Schlosser of the Endless Mountains Arts Cooperative on the Deane Center lawn. There may be ukuleles and guitars to try out as well. Also on the Deane Center lawn, Artist George Morris will turn wood on a lathe. He will also be making small tops for kids.