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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Delaware

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Man Charged In $4 Million Tax Fraud Scheme Involving Hundreds Of Stolen Identities

WILMINGTON, Del. - Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that an Indictment has been handed down by a federal grand jury charging James Ekeke, age 26, of Smyrna, Georgia, with false claims conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 286), aiding and abetting access device fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1029 & 2), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), and money laundering (18 U.S.C. § 1956).  The defendant faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud and money laundering charges, and 10 years on the remaining counts, in addition to possible fines and restitution. 

The Indictment alleges that, from January through November 2013, the defendant obtained hundreds of names and social security numbers of individuals in Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, and elsewhere.  The defendant supplied the identity information to co-conspirators in Delaware, who used the information to file more than 600 fraudulent tax returns, seeking more than $4 million in refunds.  Many of the victims were individuals who receive Social Security Disability benefits. 

The Indictment further alleges that the tax fraud conspiracy electronically filed the fraudulent tax returns, using another person’s identity, as if the returns were submitted by a tax preparer.  The defendant and his co-conspirators are alleged to have received the refund proceeds into bank accounts they owned and controlled, and they are alleged to have conducted further transactions with the proceeds in cash and by money order, to conceal and disguise the nature and source of the fraudulent tax refunds.

Festus Frimpong, another individual involved in the scheme, has pleaded guilty to false claims conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 286), and access device fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1029 & 2).  Frimpong awaits sentencing on October 20, 2014.

U.S. Attorney Oberly gave the following comments:  “Offenses like these filed against Mr. Ekeke are crimes affecting the efficient operation of our government and are injurious to all Americans who work hard and pay their taxes.  The theft of money from the government is a priority prosecution of the United States Attorney's Office, and the perpetrators, if convicted can expect to be incarcerated.”

"The IRS enforces the nation's tax laws, but also takes particular interest in cases where someone, for their own personal benefit, has taken what belonged to others,” stated Akeia Conner, Special Agent in Charge. “The use of identity theft to commit refund fraud is of particular concern to IRS Criminal Investigation.  We are pleased with the indictments associated with this investigation due to the cooperative efforts of our law enforcement partners --- United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Attorney’s Office."

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Lauren Paxton, District of Delaware. 

The charges in the Indictment are only allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Updated July 14, 2015