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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 1, 2015

Houston Man Indicted For Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft in Tax Scheme

HOUSTON – Federal charges have been filed against Tom Ineze Emasealu, 30, of Houston, alleging he committed wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in conjunction with a fraudulent tax refund scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

The 10-count indictment was returned May 20, 2015. He will appear in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson at 10:00 a.m. today for his arraignment. Initially arrest upon the filing of a criminal complaint in April, he has remained in custody pending further criminal proceedings.

Emasealu is charged with five counts of wire fraud and five counts of aggravated identity theft.

The indictment alleges that between Jan. 1, 2014, through May 8, 2015, Emasealu stole the identities of multiple victims to engage in a fraudulent tax refund scheme. Emasealu allegedly stole the identities of hundreds of victims, including their names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. According to the allegations, he used the victim’s personal identifiers to apply for tax refunds and would then allegedly direct the tax refund monies to be deposited into bank accounts under his sole ownership and control.

On average, each fraudulently filed tax refund application netted Emasealu between $3,000 and $10,000, according to the indictment. In total, Emasealu allegedly obtained, or attempted to obtain, approximately $1.2 million.

If convicted, he faces up to 30 years imprisonment for each count of wire fraud and a possible $1 million fine. Emasealu will also face an additional 24 months in federal prison for each conviction of aggravated identity theft which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Searle is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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Updated July 7, 2015