Two Georgia Men Sentenced to Prison for Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud
Two Georgia residents were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Atlanta for their involvement in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney John A. Horn of the Northern District of Georgia.
Obi Emelogu, 51, of Woodstock, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 45 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $719,872. Oloh Samuel, 33, of Acworth, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $146,179. On Oct. 10, 2014, Emelogu pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft. On Dec. 2, 2014, Samuel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.
“One of the Tax Division’s highest priorities is prosecuting individuals who use stolen identities to file fictitious income tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo. “This street crime threatens the very fabric of tax administration and often victimizes the most vulnerable members of our communities. The Tax Division is committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to identify these schemes, dismantle the criminal operations and seek to incarcerate the offenders who view the Federal Treasury as their own personal bank account.”
“These defendants brazenly stole money from the American taxpayers with little regard for whom they affect,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Horn. “We have committed resources to combat this kind of theft, and will aggressively pursue and prosecute those who believe they can file false tax returns.”
“IRS-Criminal Investigation will remain proactive in the investigation of individuals and groups especially return preparers, who engage in stealing the identities of innocent people,” said Special Agent in Charge Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “We will continue to utilize every tool available to investigate those who conspire with each other to victimize members of our community for their own personal gain.”
“These sentences send a clear message that the federal government will aggressively investigate and prosecute the crime of identity theft involving stolen tax refunds,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). “While criminals may find it easy to steal someone’s identity using their personal information, they need to know that the punishment for committing this crime will be commensurate with the devastating toll identity theft takes on its victims.”
According to court documents other information presented in court, Samuel and Emelogu participated in a scheme using stolen identities to file fraudulent federal income tax returns, including tax returns filed using stolen identities. The scheme involved businesses located in Georgia, including S & O Accounting Services LLC, which was controlled by Samuel, and Xpress Auto Parts & Towing LLC and O.B. Consulting & Tax Services LLC., which were controlled by Emelogu. In 2012, Emelogu filed hundreds of false federal income tax returns with the IRS that included fraudulent claims for tax refunds directed to be paid into his business bank accounts and into a bank account controlled by Samuel. Electronic evidence established that additional false tax returns were also filed from overseas and the refunds were deposited into Samuel’s bank account. At sentencing, the court found that the intended loss amount attributable to Emelogu was more than $400,000 and that the intended loss amount attributable to Samuel was more than $1 million.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and Acting U.S. Attorney Horn commended the special agents of IRS-CI and the TIGTA, who investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Krepp of the Northern District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Jason H. Poole of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.