WRAL Investigates

Duplin County residents accused in tax fraud scheme appear in court

Posted June 20, 2016 6:55 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2016 1:02 p.m. EDT

— Two Duplin County residents accused of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar tax fraud scheme appeared in court Monday.

According to investigators, Perfecto Ruano and Walda Luna acquired Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs, and filed false tax returns - most taking advantage of child tax credits for children who do not live in the U.S. or do not exist.

Investigators say the couple set up P.O. Boxes and filed fake returns for several years. They were caught during a traffic stop two years ago in Arkansas when a trooper found $2 million in their car.

The trooper was able to connect the couple back to their Duplin County residence, where hundreds of ITINs were sent.

The federal government said the fraud has cost taxpayers about $4 billion each year, yet the cases are still getting past the IRS.

In the Ruano and Luna case, the government is trying to seize the $1.8 million cash that was found in their car and a couple of pieces of property – totaling $3 million, for a net loss to taxpayers of $9 million.