A Nigerian – Emmanuel Kazeem – who masterminded a plot to obtain millions in refunds from the United States Internal Revenue Service has been sentenced in Oregon to 15 years imprisonment.
Kazeem, 35, of Bowie, Maryland, was sentenced in Eugene, on Thursday for a “vast conspiracy” of identity theft and tax fraud.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the convict bought personal information (including social security numbers and dates of birth) and used same to fraudulently file thousands of tax returns on behalf of unwitting victims.
“Emmanuel Kazeem orchestrated one of the largest tax fraud schemes in our nation’s history. The complexity of this case and the incredible effort by law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice cannot be understated,” Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon,said.
Kazeem purchased more than 91,000 stolen identities from a Vietnamese hacker—who pried that information from an Oregon background check company’s private database.
Between 2012 and 2015, Kazeem and his co-conspirators filed over 10,000 fraudulent tax returns in an attempt to get over $91 million in refunds.
Not all of the fake returns were successful—but out of a possible $91 million, Kazeem and his crew still managed to receive more than $11.6 million in refunds.
The lid over Kazeem’s fraudulent activities was blown open in 2013 after a Medford resident noticed that someone had filed false tax returns on behalf of her and her husband. She alerted the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which swung into action and was able to track down Kazeem.
Kazeem reportedly purchased a $175,000 townhouse and put a $200,000 down payment on a brand new home in Maryland. He also attempted to develop a $6 million 4-star hotel in Nigeria.
Security agents arrested Kazeem in May of 2015 and their probe of his background revealed that he had also engaged in marriage fraud with a view to staying in the country after entering on a student visa. Kazeem was convicted by a federal jury on 19 counts—including mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud—in Medford on August 4, 2017.