Nigerian Scammers Steal $11 Million From The IRS: The Biggest Tax Fraud In US History
A Nigerian man, Michael Oluwasegun Kazeem, 24, has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in the bilking of over $11 million through an identity-theft scheme from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this is according to information gathered from the US Attorney’s office, Oregon.
Kazeem, who came to the United States on a student visa, was charged in a federal court in the southern Oregon town of Medford on Nov. 8 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and mail fraud.
Kazeem has also been ordered to pay $4.3 million in restitution.
Kazeem’s brother, Emmanuel Kazeem, Last August, was also convicted in Medford of mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The evidence which was presented at his trial showed Emmanuel Kazeem purchasing over 91,000 taxpayer identities from a Vietnamese hacker.
His brother’s sentencing is scheduled for March 22, 2018.
The co-conspirators obtained and used pre-paid debit cards with the stolen identities to receive direct electronic tax refund deposits. They eventually filed over 10,000 fraudulent federal tax returns, attempting to obtain over $91 million in refunds, with actual losses amounting to over $11 million. Refunds were withdrawn from the debit cards and at least 2,000 wire transfers totaling over $2.1 million were sent to Nigeria.
In an email to the Associated Press, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon Scott Erik Asphaug said this is one of the largest tax fraud cases in the United States in which stolen personal identification information was used to defraud the IRS. Its scope is staggering.
“I’m deeply and emotionally sorry for the trouble I caused. What I did was wrong,” Kazeem said in court.
He is to be deported back to Nigeria after completing his sentence.