Federal Grand Jury Indicts Four Area Residents in Conspiracy to Use Stolen Identities to Steal Income Tax Refunds
DALLAS — Four area residents have been charged in a federal indictment with felony offenses related to their conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by stealing the identities of others and using that information to fraudulently obtain income tax refunds, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. The lead defendant in the case, George Ojonugwa, 30, of the Dallas area, appeared yesterday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renée Harris Toliver and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Judge Toliver ordered him detained pending trial.
The other defendants charged in the case are: Eseos Igiebor, 41, of the Dallas area; Ebenezer Legbedion, 41, of Nigeria; and Evelyn Nyaboke Haley, 33, of Kenya. Igiebor and Legbedion are presently in state custody on related charges. Haley was arrested on Friday, May 4, 2012, and is scheduled to appear tomorrow before Judge Toliver for a detention hearing.
The indictment charges each of the defendants with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims and to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. In addition, Ojonugwa, Igiebor and Legbedion are each charged with seven counts of false, fictitious or fraudulent claims upon the U.S.; two counts of fraud in connection with access devices; and six counts of aggravated identity theft. Haley is also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.
The indictment alleges that from December 2010 to February 12, 2011, the defendants ran a scheme in which they used stolen identities and other false information to fraudulently obtain individuals’ income tax refunds. As part of the conspiracy, among other things, they rented private mail boxes using stolen identities; used a stolen identity to rent a hotel room in Dallas where they created and filed the returns; obtained Electronic Filer Identification Numbers (EFINs) that were not assigned to their true names; used stolen identities to obtain tax preparation software and products; obtained stolen names and personal identifiers of U.S. taxpayers to create fraudulent income tax returns and false W-2 Forms; electronically filed these false and fraudulent income tax returns claiming fraudulent tax refunds were owed; and obtained and used, for their own personal benefit, the remitted tax refunds.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the maximum statutory penalties for each count are as follows:
- conspiracy - 20 years;
- false claims - five years;
- fraud in connection with access devices - 15 years;
- aggravated identity theft - two years.
In addition, each of the counts, upon conviction, carries a maximum $250,000 fine and restitution could be ordered.
The case is being investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI, with assistance from the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Penley and Steve Jumes are in charge of the prosecution.
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