Nationwide Identity Theft and IRS Tax Fraud Scheme Results in Federal Prison Sentences
Personally identifiable information of thousands of taxpayers used to file false federal income tax returns seeking $48 million in refunds from the IRS
MEDFORD, Ore. – On Thursday, May 18, 2017, United States District Court Judge Ann Aiken sentenced Oluwatobi Reuben Dehinbo, 32, and Oluwaseunara Temitope Osanyinbi, 36, both from Nigeria and the Atlanta area, to federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and mail fraud. Dehinbo was sentenced to 108 months and Osanyinbi was sentenced to 72 months. Both defendants are subject to a two-year mandatory minimum for possessing or using a victim’s identity to commit a fraud. Dehinbo and Osanyinbi were ordered to pay $2.7 million and $876,161 in restitution respectively. Having been convicted of aggravated felonies, both defendants will be subject to deportation upon completion of their prison sentences.
The Nature of the Conspiracy
According to court documents, in May 2013, a Medford victim notified the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that false federal and Oregon state tax returns were filed electronically using her and her husband’s names. The returns included personally identifiable information (PII) including their social security numbers and dates of birth. The federal refund was deposited into an account via a prepaid debit card in a suburb of Chicago while the state refund was directed to a bank account in Texas.
An IRS investigation led to search warrants of residences in Illinois, Maryland and Georgia and numerous email and instant messenger accounts used by the defendants and other co-conspirators to further their fraudulent scheme. At a Chicago residence, agents seized approximately 150 prepaid debit cards and $50,000 in money orders. Agents learned that the Chicago co-conspirator was connected to an identity-theft scheme being run out of Lagos, Nigeria since at least 2011. In Maryland and Georgia, the IRS seized more than 50 electronic devices, 40 money orders in amounts exceeding $29,000, $14,000 in cash and numerous Greendot prepaid debt cards containing over $12,000 in fraudulent tax refunds. Agents arrested Dehinbo and Osanyinbi while conducting searches in Georgia.
The IRS investigation revealed that the co-conspirators possessed stolen PII from more than 250,000 victims. This included identities from an Oregon company’s database stolen and sold to the co-conspirators by sources in Vietnam. For tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014, the co-conspirators used the information to file nearly 5,500 false federal tax returns seeking over $48 million in fraudulent federal refunds. Actual losses exceeded $12 million.
In carrying out their scheme, the co-conspirators used the stolen PII to acquire electronic filing PINs from the IRS in the taxpayers’ names and use them to bypass IRS authentication procedures. They also obtained and used pre-paid debit cards with the victims’ stolen identities to receive direct electronic tax refund deposits. Those refunds were withdrawn from the debit cards and at least 2,000 wire transfers totaling over $2.1 million were sent to Nigeria.
In 2014, the co-conspirators gained access to the IRS "Get Transcript" system where they obtained sensitive taxpayer information and used it to file additional fraudulent returns. In 2015, as a result of these and other security breaches, the IRS discontinued the "Get Transcript" program nationwide.
Osanyinbi’s Role in the Conspiracy
Osanyinbi came to the United States in 2013 on a student visa. Within months, he filed fraudulent tax returns and committed marriage fraud by paying a woman $4,500 to marry him so that he could obtain lawful permanent resident status. He possessed over 35,000 stolen identities in his email and instant messenger accounts, including over 18,500 victims from the database stolen in Oregon. 5,500 of these identities were Oregon residents. Osanyinbi also had more than 190 IRS E-File PINs and 89 routing and account numbers from accounts listed on the fraudulent returns. He was linked to the filing of 251 fraudulent federal tax returns and the wiring of $430,000 to Nigeria. IRS agents seized over $11,000 in money orders from Osanyinbi’s home in Georgia. Before coming to the United States, Osanyinbi was involved in soliciting stolen PII, obtaining and passing stolen credit card information that included victims’ names, addresses and card numbers from the United States and engaging in online scams.
Dehinbo’s Role in the Conspiracy
Dehinbo came to the United States in 2012 on a visa. Beginning in 2013, he began filing fraudulent tax returns and continued until his arrest in May 2015. In addition, he instructed others how to obtain unique E-File PINs; access taxpayer information via the Internet; obtain debit cards in victims’ names and use them to collect fraudulent tax refunds; check the status of an IRS refund; transfer fraudulent refunds off of debit cards and dispose of the funds through wire services. Dehinbo was linked to 419 separate wire transfers totaling $398,297. He possessed over 46,000 stolen identities in his email and instant messenger accounts. These identities included 13,725 from the database stolen in Oregon, 6,270 of whom were Oregon residents. He also possessed more than 3,350 unique IRS E-File PINs and over 600 debit cards. Dehinbo was ultimately linked to the filing of 1,344 fraudulent federal tax returns. Before coming to the United States, he was also involved in locating hackers to obtain stolen credit card information, used and provided credit card information and victim PII to others and engaged in online romance scams posing as a Swedish woman working for UNICEF in Nigeria.
This case results from a joint investigation by IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS CI), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) and the FBI. Investigative support was provided by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA); the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); the U.S. Department of State; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (DHS HSI); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Atlanta Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Byron Chatfield and Gavin Bruce, Assistant United States Attorneys for the District of Oregon.