Nigerian man sentenced to 7 years in federal prison for tax fraud


A Nigerian citizen has been sentenced to 7 years in federal prison for his part in a nationwide identity theft and IRS tax fraud scheme that cost thousands of dollars to Oregon and Washington taxpayers.

A United States District Judge sentenced 24-year-old Michael Oluwasegun Kazeem, a Nigerian citizen and recent resident of Georgia, to 7 years in federal prison for his role as a co-conspirator to commit mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and mail fraud.

According to court records, in May 2013 a woman from Medford notified the IRS of a false federal and Oregon state tax returns were filed using her and her husband's names, social security numbers and date of birth. The federal refund was then deposited into a prepaid debit card in Chicago while the state refund was deposited into an account in Texas.

An investigation by the IRS lead to search warrants in Illinois, Maryland, Georgia, and multiple emails and instant messenger services. At a home in Chicago, agents seized approximately 150 prepaid debit cards and $50,000 in money orders. The IRS seized more than 50 electronic devices, 40 money orders in amounts exceeding $29,000, $14,000 in cash and numerous Greendot prepaid debt cards containing over $12,000 in fraudulent tax refunds in Maryland and Georgia.

The IRS determined that the co-conspirators had stolen the personal identifying information of 259,000 victims and had used it to gain access to 19,500 electric filing pins in their names to bypass the IRS authentication. They filed over 10,000 fraudulent federal tax returns and attempted over $91 million refunds with losses amounted to over $11 million. The money that was received was deposited into pre-paid debit cards with the victims names, withdrawn, and wire transferred over $2.1 million to Nigeria.

Last year, Emmanuel Kazeem (brother of Michael) was convicted by a federal jury in Medford of 19 counts of mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. According to evidence presented in the trial, he had purchased over 91,000 of stolen taxpayer identities from a Vietnamese hacker that contained information from victims in Oregon and Washington. He is set to be sentenced on March 22, 2018.

Two other co-conspirators Lateef Animawun and Oluwamuyiwa Olawoye, are scheduled for November 15, 2017 and April19, 2018. Two other co-defendants, Oluwaseunara Osanyinbi and Oluwatobi Dehinbo, were previously sentenced on May 18, 2017.

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