Lansing Man Sentenced To More Than 13 Years In Prison For International Identity Theft And Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — On Tuesday, January 29, 2019, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker sentenced Oghenevwakpo Igboba to a total of 162 months’ in federal prison to be followed by three years’ supervised release, $514,823 in restitution, a money judgment of $48,205, and $1800 in court assessments.
In September 2018, a jury found Igboba guilty 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.
"My office will seek appropriate punishment for those who undermine the functioning of Internal Revenue Service systems and steal refunds owed to other hard-working Americans," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Byerly Birge. "This crime harms the individual tax payers whose identities were stolen in connection with the fraud, but it also harms 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.
"The defendant’s theft of hundreds of tax transcripts from the IRS in furtherance of a scheme to enrich himself at the expense of the American people is a grave violation of federal law and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances," said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "I am proud of 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, "This sentencing demonstrates that combating identity theft remains a priority for the IRS. IRS will not tolerate stealing the identities of innocent taxpayers. Stealing from the government and its taxpayers is not acceptable and with the start of the tax filing season, you can rest assured that IRS will be vigilant and work to protect taxpayers’ identities this tax season."
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.