Indiana State Excise Police raid Mexican restaurants in Social Security number fraud investigation
Banks, homes, tax office also searched
Last Updated: 268 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana Excise police investigation into corrupt business practices, money laundering and identity theft has retrieved $3 million and counting.
Excise police raided a chain of Mexican restaurants Monday, serving more than 100 arrest warrants in a statewide investigation into stolen Social Security numbers.
Officers were searching Acapulco Mexican Restaurants in Batesville, Lawrenceburg, Rising Sun, Aurora and Versailles along with homes in Lawrenceburg, Lafayette and Batesville, a tax preparation office in Greenwood and seven banks across southeast Indiana.
The raids are the result of an 18-month investigation into the use of fraudulent and stolen Social Security numbers, said Indiana State Excise Police Cpl. Travis Thickstun.
"(I'm) shocked. Everybody seemed like good people, and it all seemed good. (The) meals were good," said Jim Stapp, a customer of the Batesville Acapulco restaurant.
But police said the accounting isn't good. Police say on their 2009 federal tax return, owners reported gross sales of $789,729, but police estimate the sales may be have been closer to $1.5 million
Police said they found evidence of under-reporting of sales and other illegal activity in the other Acapulco locations. In all, the investigation spans eight cities across Indiana.
"This is a very significant investigation for state excise police the size and scope is broad. Again, we're looking at more than 100 people, a number of different businesses," Thickstun said.
From their window, stylists at Great Clips next door to the Batesville restaurant watched as police took workers away in handcuffs.
"It makes me a little nervous really. I've seen these people for years. They've always been really nice. I never thought that anything like this was going on," said stylist Kari Houston.
The restaurants’ employment records didn't add up either. For example, in some cases, older male employees used the social security numbers of young women.
"Part of it is identity theft and corrupt business influence on the part of 108 employees, managers and owners of those locations," said Thickstun.
Police are still working to track others down as they sort through the evidence.
Officers were searching Monday for evidence of corrupt business influence, money laundering, forgery, perjury, identity deception and theft.
Excise officers are the enforcement division of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
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