Baltimore Conspirator Sentenced to Over Three Years in Federal Prison for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Adebola Opeyemi Adeniyi, age 32, a Nigerian citizen living in Baltimore, today to 42 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to commit wire fraud in a stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) scheme. Adeniyi admitted that the conspirators defrauded the IRS by using the personal identifying information (PII) of individual victims to obtain over $655,000 in fraudulent tax refunds. Judge Motz also entered an order requiring Adeniyi to pay restitution of $550,000.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, from October 17, 2013 through March 17, 2015, Adeniyi and his co-conspirators filed false tax returns, arranging for the electronic transfer of the fraudulently obtained tax refunds to prepaid debit cards. Adeniyi also obtained victims’ account information from the 2013 Target Store data breach, which he and other participants in the scheme used to re-encode the magnetic strips of payment cards in their possession. Adeniyi and other participants used the debit cards loaded with SIRF funds and the re-encoded payment cards to purchase money orders, which the conspirators cashed at check cashing businesses. Adeniyi shared the cash proceeds with other participants in the scheme. The total value of money orders purchased with SIRF funds and cashed by Adeniyi or at his direction was at least $665,635. The total value of money orders purchased with account information compromised during the Target Store data breach and cashed at Adeniyi’s direction was at least $80,500. At least $100,874 in SIRF funds were loaded onto prepaid debit cards for which co-conspirator Mayowa Towobola provided account numbers and security codes to Adeniyi and other participants in the scheme, and the total value of fraudulently obtained money orders cashed by Towobola was at least $58,524. In text messages found on Adeniyi and Towobola’s cell phones, seized during searches executed on July 21, 2015, they discuss loading a total of at least $1,237,358 in fraudulently obtained funds onto various prepaid debit cards.
Further, Adeniyi admitted that he used some of the money orders obtained from the two schemes to: purchase vehicles at auctions in Maryland, and arrange for their shipment to purchasers in Nigeria; and to engage in currency exchange transactions, exchanging U.S. currency for Nigerian currency at competitively low rates.
Co-conspirators Mayowa Olabiyi Towobola, age 26, a resident of Parkville, Maryland, and Hafis Omowonuola Oladokun, age 39, of Owings Mills, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their involvement in the wire fraud conspiracy and were sentenced to 33 months in prison, and two years in prison, respectively. Judge Motz also ordered Towobola to pay restitution $159,398. Adeolu Adeola Solabu, age 25, of Baltimore, also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2017, at 11:00 a.m.
The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft.
Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI-Baltimore, IRS-CI and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew J. Maddox and Paul E. Budlow, who are prosecuting the case.