FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – A Middlesex County, N.J., man, and an Essex County, N.J., man were arrested this morning by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on separate Complaints charging them with fraudulently obtaining tax refunds by filing false claims with the IRS, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Badatunde Olugbake, 55, of Perth Amboy, N.J., is charged with one count of stealing government property, eight counts of filing false claims, and eight counts of mail fraud. In a separate complaint, Hakeem Awe, 38, of Irvington, N.J., is charged with one count of stealing government property, three counts of filing false claims, and three counts of mail fraud.
Both defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court.
According to the Complaints:
From February 2008 through December 2010, Olugbake was allegedly involved in a scheme to file false and fraudulent tax returns in an effort to obtain tax refund checks. As part of that scheme, Olugbake deposited more than $400,000 in tax refunds into bank accounts he controlled.
Through the unauthorized use of names and Social Security numbers of unsuspecting victims, along with false addresses, statements of income, number of dependents and claims for refunds, Olugbake manipulated tax returns so that the purported claimants qualified for the Earned Income Credit. Olugbake then mailed the fraudulent returns to the IRS, which processed the false returns as if they were legitimate. The IRS issued refund checks that were mailed to the false addresses associated with the returns, where the checks were then retrieved by Olugbake.
Awe participated in an identical, but separate, scheme between February 2008 and September 2011 to file false and fraudulent tax returns in an effort to obtain tax refund checks. Awe deposited more than $400,000 in tax refunds into bank accounts under his control.
The filing false claims charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The theft of government property charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, and the mail fraud charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. All three charges carry a potential $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn S. Zuniga; and postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Philip Bartlett, with the investigation leading to today’s arrests.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew J. Bruck of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacques S. Pierre of the U.S. Attorney’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.