Nigerian To Spend 48 Months In US Prison For N298.7m Tax Fraud

A Nigerian man involved in tax fraud in the United States of America has been sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud.

He was sentenced on Thursday, 9 January, 2020 by a Federal judge.

Babatunde Olusegun Taiwo, who lives in St Louis, Missouri, was convicted for a tax return scheme totalling $829,712 about N298.7 million. His conviction was based on a plea bargain earlier reached in September, 2019, with Federal prosecutors.

The sentence was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Richard Zuckerman of the US Justice Department Tax Division and US Attorney Jeffrey Jensen for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Federal prosecutors said Taiwo, co-conspirator Kevin Williams and others, obtained personal information from people, including through a data breach at a payroll company.

The victims included school district employees in Alabama and Mississippi.

Taiwo and others used the information to file false tax returns with the IRS.

Prosecutors said Taiwo and his co-conspirators filed more than 2,000 fraudulent tax returns that claimed more than $12 million in refunds, of which the IRS paid out about $890,000.

A federal grand jury sitting in St. Louis, Missouri had last year returned an indictment against Taiwo for his role in a sophisticated stolen identity refund fraud scheme, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and US Attorney Jeffrey B. Jensen for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The indictment charged Taiwo with conspiracy to file false claims, mail fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

To carry out the scheme, Taiwo and others allegedly obtained the payroll information of employees of various public school systems by accessing without authorization a payroll company database.

Taiwo and others also allegedly obtained IRS Forms W-2 of various companies through the use of business email schemes.

To conceal their involvement, Taiwo and his co-conspirators allegedly obtained and used without authorisation several Electronic Filing Identification Numbers issued in the names of tax preparation businesses.

As charged in the indictment, Taiwo then arranged for mail forwarding services to be set up in the names of those tax preparers in various cities across the United States, including Reno, Nevada, and Salt Lake City, Utah, and directed mail to be sent to an accomplice’s residence in St. Louis, Missouri.

Taiwo and his co-conspirators allegedly used the school employee payroll information they illegally obtained to file fraudulent tax returns, and computer software to mask the location of where the returns were filed.

As charged in the indictment, over 2,000 fraudulent tax returns claiming more than $12 million in tax refunds from the IRS were filed through the scheme.

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