A federal grand jury indicted six Texans and a Tennessean in a stolen identity tax refund conspiracy that claimed over $111 million in fraudulent refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.
The defendants are accused of filing at least 371 tax returns from 2018 through 2021 using stolen identities.
According to authorities, Abraham Yusuff of Round Rock, Texas, recruited Christopher Eduardo of Round Rock, Dillon Anozie of San Antonio, Babajide Ogunbanjo of Austin, Aydin Mammadov of Houston, and Christian Mathurin of Nashville, Tennessee, to gain control of mailing addresses for use in the scheme.
Mr. Yusuff then registered with the IRS, using the stolen information of taxpayers and tax preparers to pass as a tax professional himself, the Justice Department said.
The IRS was directed to change addresses on file to those controlled by the accused conspirators, and to send tax information to said addresses.
The IRS-provided info was then used to prepare electronic tax returns.
The refunds provided by the IRS were split among multiple prepaid debit cards. Some taxpayers had refund verification letters sent to the addresses controlled by the defendants, and the defendants are accused of directing the IRS to release the refunds.
Mr. Yusuff, Mr. Anozie, Mr. Ogunbanjo, Mr. Mammadov, Mr. Eduardo, and Meghan Inyang of San Antonio obtained the prepaid debit cards.
The funds were laundered by buying money orders; other portions of the haul, prosecutors claim, went towards designer clothing, home renovations, and auctioned-off used cars.
The remainder of the money orders left over served as act defendant’s share of the proceeds, according to authorities.
The defendants are each charged with varying crimes, although the specific charges for each person were not detailed by the Justice Department.
The charges include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and access-device fraud.
The mail and wire fraud charges, along with the related conspiracy charge as well as money laundering, all have a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Access-device fraud has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Each count of aggravated identity theft, meanwhile, has a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.