PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Nigerian citizen was sentenced to federal prison for his role in an identity theft scheme that involved 250,000 people and more than $4 million in illegal tax refunds.
Michael Oluwasegun Kazeem, 24, was sentenced to 7 years in prison on November 8, the US Department of Justice said in a release. Kazeem — who is the 3rd person sentenced in this nationwide scam that included Oregon — was also ordered to repay $4.3 million in restitution and will be subject to deportation after his release from prison.
Three more men will be sentenced in the not-too-distant future.
Beginning in 2012, Michael Kazeem, his brother, Emmanuel Oluwatosin Kazeem, and several others engaged in an identity theft conspiracy, in Oregon and elsewhere, involving a scheme to obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.
The Kazeem brothers and their co-conspirators used stolen personal identifying information and gained unauthorized access into the IRS system to obtain taxpayer information.
Records show, in total, Michael Kazeem and his co-conspirators stole more than 250,000 individual taxpayers’ personal information and filed over 2,900 false federal tax returns seeking over $25 million in fraudulent refunds.
The IRS rejected millions of dollars of fraudulently claimed refunds; however, the defendants successfully obtained $4.7 million in illegal refunds.
In August 2017, Emmanuel Kazeem was convicted of 19 counts of mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Most of the 91,000 victims lived in Oregon and Washington. He will be sentenced on March 22, 2018.
Two other co-conspirators, Lateef Animawun and Oluwamuyiwa Olawoye, are scheduled to be sentenced on November 15, 2017 and April 19, 2018.
Two others — Oluwaseunara Osanyinbi and Oluwatobi Dehinbo — were already sentenced in May 2017.