Three Arrested for Role in Austin-Based Multi-Million Dollar S.I.R.F. Scheme
Today, federal authorities arrested three individuals indicted in connection with a multi-million dollar Austin-based Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) scheme announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.; Special Agent in Charge William Cotter, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Houston Division; and, Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), San Antonio Division.
Authorities arrested 54–year-old Nigerian National George Najomo in Austin; and, 36-year-old Sudan National Ibrahim Alu and 40-year-old Sudan National George Ismail in Grand Prairie, TX. Authorities are still looking to arrest 44-year-old Nigerian National Dele Akanbi (aka “SK”). A warrant has been issued for Akanbi’s arrest.
A ten-count federal grand jury indictment, unsealed this afternoon, charges all four defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. All but Akanbi are also charged with one count of theft of public money. Alu and Ismael are also charged with one count of wire fraud.
The indictment alleges that from January 2013 through April 2016, the defendants conspired to use stolen Personal Identification Information (PII) to commit fraud. According to the indictment, the defendants, while operating a cleaning business in Austin, stole hundreds of patient forms and other paperwork from multiple medical facilities in the Austin area. The defendants then used that stolen information, as well as stolen PII from other unknown sources, to obtain credit cards and file numerous fraudulent income tax returns seeking over $3,000,000 in refunds from the IRS. The indictment alleges that the defendants collected over $630,000 in fraudulent Income Tax Return refunds and close to $17,000 from fraudulent credit card transactions.
Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge; up to 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud; up to ten years for theft of public money; and, a mandatory two years in federal prison for aggravated identity theft.
Agents from the IRS-CI, USPIS and HSI conducted this investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael C. Galdo and Gregg N. Sofer are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.