A Gainesville man has been charged in a tax return scheme in which he allegedly bilked illegal immigrants of some $465,000.
Guillermo Merino, 34, an illegal immigrant himself, is in the Hall County jail with an immigration hold placed on him. He also has been charged with second-degree forgery, said Lt. Scott Ware of the Multi Agency Narcotics Squad.
Agents with the Gang Task Force and MANS arrested Merino on Friday as part of a federal investigation. They were assisting the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Merino was stopped near the 100 block of Highland Terrace and found to have $53,000 on him, Ware said.
An additional $412,000 was found during a search of his home on Georgia Avenue.
The money was believed to be proceeds from an illegal operation where Merino was using illegal immigrants’ identification information to file their tax returns, Ware said.
He then cashed their tax return checks and kept the money for himself.
At the time of his arrest, Merino had a Georgia driver’s license that gave a false name and date of birth, Ware said.