EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The IRS Criminal Investigation is reminding the public to stay vigilant of Identity theft and fraud, after a Texan man was sentenced 5 years for fraud.

Ryan Jerel Shern, 34, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release for fraud. Shern participated in conspiracy to use stolen identity and information to seek fraudulent tax refunds from the IRS in the names of unsuspecting taxpayers. According to the IRS news release, Shern, has also been asked to pay $726,165 in restitution to the United States.

Scammers have become much more sophisticated, emails and texts may look legitimate, according to the IRS news release. The community should also be vigilant towards charity fraud, this occurs when an organization falsely claims to be a nonprofit organization or misappropriates funds intended for a charity.

The IRS reminds the public that there are ways to protect oneself against identity theft, such as:

  • Don’t open any unsolicited emails
  • Don’t give out social security number
  • Don’t click on unsolicited links