Nigerian jailed 32 months in US for wire fraud, to refund $36,926
A computer hacker used personal information he stole from school employees which he used to file 122 tax returns seeking refunds totaling $596,897.
Associated Press reports that Daniel Adekunle Ojo, 34, a Nigerian national residing in North Carolina was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison Thursday morning by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer. Additionally the judge ordered him to repay $36,926 to the IRS.
Ojo pleaded guilty on June 21 to separate charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He has been in custody since Aug. 3 when he was arrested in Durham, N.C., according to U.S. Attorney John “Bull” Durham.
Durham said Ojo entered the U.S. using a visitor’s visa on May 23, 2016 and never left. The visa expired on June 8, 2016 but Ojo remained here, married and fathered a child..
Assistant U.S. Public Defender Tracy Hayes told the judge Ojo was going through some tough times. Both he and his wife were unemployed and their car was stolen. The defense lawyer downplayed his role in the phishing scheme.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala countered that his actions allowed others involved in the scheme to still “have access to the victims’ personal information and could use it over and over again for nefarious purposes.”
Victims were forced to hire credit monitoring service, repair their credit reports and freeze their ability to obtain credit for a period of time.
“Who knows how long this event will follow me or the long term implications of my identity (theft) will be affected by this person’s actions,” a Glastonbury victim wrote the court. .
Investigators became aware of the scheme in February, 2017, when a Glastonbury school employee received an email claiming to be from the executive assistant to the assistant superintendent requesting the 2016 wage and tax statements for all of the system’s employees.
The recipient complied and sent the personal W-2 information for all 1,600 employees to the email address. That American On Line address was created that same month. The recipient was later terminated by the school system.
A short time later 122 federal 1040 tax returns in the names of some of the employees were filed electronically with the IRS. Together the returns sought $596,897 in refunds. However only six were processed resulted in $36,926 in fraudulent obtained refunds which were electronically deposited in bank accounts created for the scheme.
A federal investigation was begun and found that a gmail account used by Ojo contained six W-2 forms created for Glastonbury school employees as well as their personal information.
Members of the FBI’s cybercrime unit in New Haven uncovered additional information on a similar scheme that victimized employees of Groton’s public schools and those working for the Bloomington Independent School District in Minnesota.
In Groton, an employee received a request from what appeared to be the school system’s superintendent. The employee then sent tax and wage information on 1,300 employees to the email address. The IRS then received 66 tax returns supposedly from those employees seeking refunds totaling $364,188. However none of those refunds were paid.
Assisting the FBI in the probe were agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation unit and Durham, N.C. police.