News reports have revealed the arrest and sentencing of a Nigerian man to seven years in jail for his role in a long con of over $11m via an identity-theft scheme from the Internal Revenue Service in the US. The U.S. Attorney’s office for Oregon made the disclosure on Tuesday, November 14.
According to an IRS agent, the theft is said to be one of the largest tax fraud cases in the U.S in which stolen personal identification information was reportedly in defrauding the IRS. First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon, Scott Erik Asphaug said that the scope of the fraud is staggering. Daily Mail reports that an IRS criminal investigation determined the co-conspirators obtained personal identifying information of more than 259,000 people and used it to get over 19,500 electronic filing PINs from the IRS.
The co-conspirators reportedly obtained and used pre-paid debit cards with the stolen identities to receive direct electronic tax refund deposits. They went on to file over 10,000 fraudulent federal tax returns, in a bid to obtain over $91 million in refunds, with actual losses amounting to over $11 million. The refunds were withdrawn from the debit cards and at least 2,000 wire transfers summing up to $2.1 million were sent to Nigeria.
For his role in the scheme, 24-year-old Michael Oluwasegun Kazeem was sentenced in federal court in the southern Oregon town of Medford on November 8 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and mail fraud. U.S. District Court Judge, Ann Aiken also ordered that Kazeem pay $4.3m in restitution.
In August, Kazeem’s brother, Emmanuel Kazeem, was convicted in Medford of mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Instablog9ja reports that evidence presented at the trial showed Emmanuel Kazeem purchased over 91,000 taxpayer identities from a Vietnamese hacker. Michael Kazeem reportedly joined the conspiracy in 2013 to help his brother, who lived in Bowie, Maryland and Nigeria.
According to the reports, Emmanuel Kazeem’s sentencing is scheduled for March 22, 2018. Michael Kazeem apologized in court, saying. “I’m deeply and emotionally sorry for the trouble I caused. What I did was wrong.” Micheal is to be deported after completing his sentence.
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