A ring of five defendants from around the U.S. conspired to steal victims' identities and file fraudulent tax returns on their behalf over a 9-year period, according to charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The ring filed more than 2,400 fraudulent tax returns between 2005 and this year, collecting approximately $10 million from the IRS, said David J. Hickton, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
A grand jury in April indicted Doherty Kushimo, 52, of Rhode Island, Saburi Adeyemi, 56, of Tennessee, Abiodun Bakre, 49, of New York, Adetunji Gbadegeshi, 57, of New York and Adebola Mejule, 54, of New York on 13 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, Hickton said.
The defendants obtained stolen identities online and traded them amongst themselves over email, according to an FBI and IRS joint investigation.
The defendants then submitted fraudulent federal tax returns on behalf of the victims and deposited the money into bank accounts established in the names of other stolen identities, the investigation found.
In total, the defendants filed for over $21 million in tax returns, and the IRS paid out more than $10 million in fraudulent refunds, Hickton said.
“The use of the Internet for criminal purposes is one of the most critical challenges facing the FBI and law enforcement in general,” said Patrick Fallon, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI. “In order to combat Internet fraud, it is essential for law enforcement officers not only to understand and use the Internet, but also to join forces.”
If convicted, Adeyemi, Gbadegeshi and Mejule face up to 20 years in prison. Kushimo faces 38 years in prison, and Bakre faces 36 years, Hickton said.
The five would also be subject to fines of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of loss to the victims if convicted, Hickton said.