Three Nigerian men illegally accessed accounts from a Minnesota company and the Department of Education to steal personal identity information and used it to file fraudulent tax returns, according to a federal indictment unsealed this week.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Erica MacDonald announced on Wednesday the unsealing of three separate indictments against Olufemi Oluwaseun Banjo, also known as “Femi Banjo,” 37, Francis Nwabueze Iwuoha, 38, and Oluwadamilare Gbenga Macaulay, 32, charging them with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy.
According to the allegations in the indictments, from approximately March 2016 through February 2018, the three men, all citizens of Nigeria, gained unauthorized access to online accounts of thousands of individual victims to steal personal identifying information (PII) and IRS W-2 Forms, which they used to file false tax returns in the names of the individual victims seeking fraudulent refunds.
As part of the scheme, Banjo, Iwuoha, Macaulay and others (who were not identified) gained unauthorized access to approximately 1,200 individuals’ accounts maintained by a Minnesota-based company that provides human resource and payroll services to numerous businesses.
Access was gained through a web-based program that allowed employees to download a copy of their IRS Form W-2 from an internet portal. After fraudulently obtaining the PII and tax information from the accounts, the three men and others used the information to prepare and electronically file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS.
As part of the scheme, the defendants also gained unauthorized access to individuals’ accounts maintained by the Department of Education by exploiting an online tool that facilitates the transfer of individuals’ PII and tax information from the IRS website to the Department of Education. The defendants used the stolen information to prepare and electronically file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS. As a result, Banjo, Iwuoha, Macaulay and others attempted to claim a total of approximately $16.4 million in fraudulent tax refunds.
The three men are not in custody and are believed to be in Nigeria.
The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, and the FBI.
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