SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Federal prosecutors say four New York City men have pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent tax refund checks and attempting to steal another $2 million.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Syracuse says the four men from the Bronx, all in their late 20s, pleaded guilty recently to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud.

Authorities say the men stole identities of people in Puerto Rico and elsewhere and stole federal income tax returns from mailboxes in the Syracuse area. Their scheme was discovered in 2011 when a house painter in a Syracuse suburb spotted a driver cruising through a neighborhood and stealing mail from mailboxes.

An investigation resulted in the recovery of $700,000 in fraudulent refund checks. Prosecutors say the scheme included more than 380 fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds of around $2.8 million.

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