Olathe Woman Pleads Guilty In Identity Theft Scheme
KANSAS CITY, KAN. – An Olathe woman pleaded guilty Monday in a scheme to collect income tax refunds by creating companies that existed only on paper, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.
Raquel Odegbaro, 39, Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of mail fraud.
Odegbaro was the owner of Cokeza Styles, an online business that sold hair products. In her plea, she admitted she and her co-conspirators created a series of fictitious companies and filed tax returns in the names of so-called employees by providing false information about wages earned, amounts withheld and refunds due. The false tax returns directed the Internal Revenue Service to deposit refunds electronically to reloadable credit cards controlled by the conspirators. The individuals whose names appeared on the refunds never actually worked for the fictitious companies.
In addition, the conspirators used stolen Social Security numbers to apply for unemployment benefits from the Kansas Department of Labor. They created more than nine fictitious companies and registered them with the labor department. They filed false claims in the names of employees who purportedly were terminated without fault.
Odegbaro is set for sentencing on April 19, 2017. Both parties have agreed to recommend a sentence of 75 months in federal prison and restitution of more than $894,000.
Co-defendants Abdirizak Aden, 32, Kansas City, Mo; Alexander Limihagati, 33, Overland Park, Kan., Zia Mkubi Kajanja, 40, Overland Park, Kan., are awaiting trial.
Beall commended the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor and Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, the Kansas Department of Children and Families, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Education – Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble for their work on the case.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.