The FBI cyber-crime squad and IRS agents in New Haven have arrested and charged a Nigerian living illegally in North Carolina with using a computer phishing scheme to steal tax information from thousands of teachers in Connecticut and Minnesota and using the information to collect fraudulent federal tax refunds.
Daniel Adekunle Ojo, who had spent less than 14 months in the United States, was charged on Thursday in Durham, N.C., with fraud and identity theft.
The 33-year-old Nigerian was also accused of duping school systems in Glastonbury, Groton and Bloomington, Minnesota.
The offences stemmed from Ojo’s phishing scheme, using an AOL and GMail email accounts that targeted school districts in Connecticut and Minnesota in an effort to get employees’ personal information and file bogus tax returns.
His arrest was announced Friday by Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation in New England.
In February 2017, an employee of the Glastonbury Public Schools received an email that appeared to be sent by another Glastonbury school system employee. The email contained a request to send W-2 tax information for all employees of the school system. The recipient of the email responded by sending copies of the W-2 information for approximately 1,600 Glastonbury Public Schools employees. After the W-2 information was emailed, approximately 122 suspicious Forms 1040 were filed electronically with the IRS in the names of victims of the Glastonbury phishing scheme. The 122 tax returns claimed tax refunds totaling $596,897. Approximately six of the returns were processed, and $36,926 in fraudulently-obtained funds were electronically deposited into various bank accounts.
The complaint alleges that OJO controlled or used an aol.com email account and a gmail.com email account involved in this phishing scheme, and that he participated in the scheme to obtain the Glastonbury school system employees’ personal identifying information and use it for personal gain.
This ongoing investigation also includes phishing incidents that victimized the Groton Public Schools, and the Bloomington Independent School District in Bloomington, Minnesota.
As to the Groton Public Schools, in March 2017, a school system employee emailed copies of the W-2 information for approximately 1,300 employees. After the W-2 information was sent, approximately 66 suspicious Forms 1040 were filed electronically with the IRS in the names of victims of the Groton phishing scheme. The tax returns claimed tax refunds totaling $364,188. The fraudulent tax returns were not processed by the IRS because they were flagged as being part of an identity theft scheme, and no money was released in connection with the returns.
The complaint alleges that OJO entered the U.S. on a visitor’s visa in May 23, 2016, and failed to depart on his scheduled departure date of June 8, 2016.
The complaint charges OJO with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and aggravated identity theft, an offense that carries a mandatory consecutive term of imprisonment of at least two years.