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January 31, 2018

Nigerian Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Role in Sophisticated Scheme Using Stolen Identities to Defraud the IRS

On November 8, 2017, Michael Oluwasegun Kazeem was sentenced in the District of Oregon for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft.1 Kazeem was initially indicted for the offenses on February 4, 2016,2 and arrested on February 17, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia3 by agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and other Federal law enforcement agencies. Kazeem pled guilty on April 24, 2017.4

According to the indictment, beginning as early as Tax Year 2012 and continuing until May 2015, Kazeem knowingly conspired with others to commit mail fraud, to defraud the IRS and obtain money through false and fraudulent representations, and to use the means of identification of others without lawful authority. Kazeem resides in Nigeria and in the State of Georgia. His brother (and coconspirator) lives in Maryland, and a third coconspirator resides in Georgia.5

It was the object of the conspiracy to obtain stolen personally identifying information (PII) and use that information, coupled with information illegally obtained from IRS data systems, for the purpose of preparing and electronically filing fraudulent tax returns with the IRS to claim fraudulent refunds.6

Kazeem and his coconspirators obtained, by unauthorized means, the names and other PII of over 250,000 U.S. taxpayers without their knowledge or consent. In furtherance of their conspiracy, Kazeem and his coconspirators then used the stolen PII for unauthorized access to the IRS transcript system, which was available online through the "Get Transcript" application, in order to obtain over 1,200 taxpayer transcripts for subsequent use in filing fraudulent returns in those taxpayers' names. An IRS transcript shows the taxpayer's tax return information, including line items from the return, income information, and basic data such as marital status, adjusted gross income, and taxable income.7

The coconspirators used the stolen names and other PII, along with any IRS transcript information acquired, to create fraudulent income tax returns and false Forms W-2. The coconspirators also used the stolen PII to obtain Electronic Filing PINs in the names of the victims. An Electronic Filing PIN is a five-digit personal identification number required for electronically filed tax returns when the filer does not have certain items of information from the previous year. Kazeem sent communications to his brother containing over 4,000 fraudulently obtained Electronic Filing PINs and stolen taxpayer PII.8

In total, Kazeem and his coconspirators used the stolen PII to file over 2,900 false Federal income tax returns seeking more than $25 million dollars in fraudulent refunds. The actual loss exceeded $4.7 million from tax returns accepted for payment by the IRS.9

Kazeem was sentenced to a total of 84 months' imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. He was further ordered to pay $4,298,860 in restitution and may face deportation.10

    1 D. Or. Judgment filed Nov. 14, 2017.
    2 D. Or. Indict. filed Feb. 4, 2016.
    3 D. Or. Executed Arrest Warrant filed Feb. 18, 2016.
    4 D. Or. Plea Agr. filed Feb. 24, 2017.
    5 D. Or. Indict. filed Feb. 4, 2016.
    6 Id.
    7 Id.
    8 Id.
    9 Id.
    10 D. Or. Judgment filed Nov. 14, 2017.