WASHINGTON (KXAN) – The Department of Justice said Monday seven people, including six from Texas, face multiple charges in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service using stolen identities.
According to the DOJ announcement, a federal grand jury in Austin indicted the seven on March 7, charging them with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and other crimes. Those indictments were unsealed on Monday.
The DOJ says indictments alleged that from 2018 through 2021, the following seven people engaged in a conspiracy to claim fraudulent tax refunds using the stolen identities of accountants and taxpayers by filing at least 371 false tax returns claiming over $111 million in refunds from the IRS.
Abraham Yusuff, Round Rock
Meghan Inyang, San Antonio
Christopher Eduardo, Round Rock
Christian Mathurin, Nashville, Tennessee
Dillon Anozie, San Antonio
Babajide Ogunbanjo, Austin
Aydin Mammadov, Houston
The DOJ announcement says Yusuff allegedly recruited and directed Eduardo, Mathurin, Anozie, Ogunbanjo and Mammadov to provide addresses to him that could be used in the scheme.
Yusuff and others then allegedly registered with the IRS, posing as authorized agents of multiple taxpayers using stolen information relating to the taxpayers and their real tax preparers.
According to the DOJ, the conspirators then directed the IRS to change the addresses on file for the taxpayers and to send their tax information, including account transcripts and wage records, to the addresses controlled by the conspirators.
The conspirators then allegedly used this information to electronically file tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds and directed the refunds the IRS to split the refunds among several prepaid debit cards.
Prior to issuing tax refunds to some taxpayers, the IRS allegedly sent verification letters to the addresses controlled by the defendants, and the defendants and others, pretending to be the taxpayers, instructed the IRS to release the refunds.
The indictment also charges Yusuff, Inyang, Eduardo, Anozie, Ogunbanjo and Mammadov obtained the prepaid debit cards were to be used to receive the fraudulent refunds and that once the refunds were deposited onto the prepaid debit cards, they laundered the funds by purchasing, among other things, money orders from local stores in amounts low enough to avoid reporting thresholds.
Yusuff and others also allegedly used the prepaid debit cards and money orders to purchase designer clothing, home renovation materials and used cars at auction.
The indictment alleges all seven kept or received money orders purchased with the fraudulent refunds as their share of the illegal proceeds.
The indictment charges each defendant with varying crimes, including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and access device fraud, according to the Department of Justice.
If convicted, the DOJ says the seven defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the mail and wire fraud and the conspiracy of said fraud, 20 years for money laundering, 10 years for access device fraud, and a mandatory sentence of two years for aggravated identity theft. In addition to any term of imprisonment, each of the defendants also faces a period of supervised release, monetary penalties, restitution and forfeiture, DOJ says.
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