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Press Release

Jury Convicts Lansing Man In International Identity Theft And Tax Refund Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — On Monday, September 17, 2018, a jury convicted Oghenevwakpo Igboba of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of wire fraud, eight counts of making a false claim to the United States, and eight counts of aggravated identity theft. Igboba used other individuals’ personally identifying information to access tax information using an Internal Revenue Service website. He then took that sensitive tax and personal information and used it to file false federal income tax returns directing the IRS to pay fraudulent refunds to bank accounts he controlled. Igboba now faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud conviction, which was the most serious charge, and at least two years consecutive for the aggravated identity theft convictions. The conspiracy and false claims convictions carry up to ten and five years in prison, respectively.

          "My office will aggressively prosecute those who undermine the functioning of Internal Revenue Service systems and steal refunds owed to other hard-working Americans," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. "This crime does damage to the individual tax payers whose identities were stolen in connection with the fraud, but it also does damage to all Americans who place their trust in the proper functioning of the tax system and expect an orderly and prompt payment of tax refunds. This defendant stole from all of us."

          By filing Form 1040s before the real taxpayers, Igboba managed to direct hundreds of thousands of dollars to himself. IRS systems stopped many of the stolen returns from being issued, but Igboba personally received at least $57,000 as a result of his crime. He used personally identifying information to access tax information for more than 100 individuals through IRS systems. The evidence introduced at trial demonstrated that the defendant conspired with numerous individuals, both in the United States and abroad, to compile personal information and direct the tax returns to numerous bank accounts.

          "Even one unauthorized access to confidential tax information is a violation of federal law, and in this case, the defendant stole hundreds of tax transcripts from the IRS in furtherance of a scheme to enrich himself at the expense of the American people," said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "I want to commend our investigators, including those in our cybercrimes division, for cracking this case, their counterparts at IRS Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for helping us bring this individual to justice."

          Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel, IRS - Criminal Investigation, stated, "IRS-CI will not stop its pursuit of criminals who attempt and perpetrate tax-related identity theft." Muriel continued, "let this conviction stand as a warning to any would-be criminal that ID theft tax crimes will not be tolerated, and that you will be caught and brought to justice."

          The case was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and IRS - Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Sally J. Berens and Christopher M. O’Connor prosecuted the case.

END

Updated September 19, 2018