$110 Million Tax Refund ID Theft Scheme

A federal grand jury in Austin, Texas, has returned an indictment charging seven individuals with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and other crimes arising out of their scheme to defraud the IRS using stolen identities. Allegations include stealing identities of accountants, tax preparers, and taxpayers.

According to the indictment, from 2018 through 2021, Abraham Yusuff (Round Rock), Meghan Inyang (San Antonio), Christopher Eduardo (Round Rock), Dillon Anozie (San Antonio), Babajide Ogunbanjo (Austin), Aydin Mammadov (Houston), and Christian Mathurin (Nashville, Tennessee), engaged in a conspiracy to claim fraudulent tax refunds using the stolen identities of accountants and taxpayers by filing at least 371 false tax returns claiming over $111 million in refunds from the IRS.

Yusuff allegedly recruited and directed Eduardo, Mathurin, Anozie, Ogunbanjo and Mammadov to provide addresses to him that could be used in the scheme. Yusuff and others then allegedly registered with the IRS, posing as authorized agents of multiple taxpayers using stolen information relating to the taxpayers and their real tax preparers. They allegedly directed the IRS to change the addresses on file for the taxpayers and send their tax information (account transcripts and wage records) to the addresses controlled by the conspirators, and used this information to electronically file tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds and directed the IRS to split the refunds among several prepaid debit cards.

The indictment alleges that those charged obtained the prepaid debit cards that were to be used to receive the fraudulent refunds, and once refunds were deposited, they laundered the funds by purchasing money orders in amounts low enough to avoid reporting thresholds, using the debit cards and money orders to purchase designer clothing, home renovation materials, and used cars at auctions. It is alleged that all defendants kept or received money orders purchased with the fraudulent refunds as their share of the illegal proceeds.

The indictment charges each defendant with varying crimes, including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and access device fraud. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the mail and wire fraud and the conspiracy of said fraud, 20 years for money laundering, 10 years for access device fraud, and a mandatory sentence of two years for aggravated identity theft. In addition to any term of imprisonment, each of the defendants also faces a period of supervised release, monetary penalties, restitution, and forfeiture. A federal district court judge will determine sentencing after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

— Source: U.S. Department of Justice.

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