Federal Prosecutors Announce Additional Indictments in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
ERIE, PA—Sixteen individuals from around the United States have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
The thirteen-count superseding indictment named Doherty Kushimo, 53, of Providence, Rhode Island; Saburi Adeyemi, 56, of Memphis, Tennessee; Abiodun Bakre, 50, of Ozone Park, New York; Adetunji Gbadegeshi, 57, of Queens, New York; Xerxes Shevar, 47, of Brooklyn, New York; Gcobisa Kehle, 37, of Brooklyn, New York; Loyiso Kula, 43, of New York City; Abiodun Tijani, 44, of Staten Island, New York; Funmilayo Aliyu, 53, of Laurelton, New York; Bola Peters, 43, of New York City; Samuel Sobaloju, 52, of Far Rockaway, New York; Daniel Freeman, 49, of Danbury, Connecticut; Nana Baffour, 38, of Bronx, New York; and Kwame Asamoah, 35, of Brooklyn, New York, as defendants.
According to the indictment presented to the court, the sixteen defendants conspired to commit wire fraud by submitting fraudulent federal tax returns in the names of individuals whose identities the conspirators stole. The conspirators then opened bank accounts using stolen identities and used those accounts as repositories for their fraudulently obtained federal tax refunds. The conspirators obtained stolen identity information on the Internet and then traded that information among themselves using e-mail accounts and other means of communication. All told, the indictment alleges that, for the tax years 2010 to 2013, approximately $38 million in fraudulent tax refunds was sought from the IRS by the conspirators, causing the IRS to pay at least $10 million in fraudulent refunds. The indictment also alleges that approximately 3,493 bank accounts were opened using stolen identities, affecting approximately 443 financial institutions, and that approximately 4,563 credit cards were obtained using stolen identities. Approximately 11,468 individuals are alleged in the indictment to have been victimized.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison for Saburi Adeyemi, Adetunji Gbadegeshi, Adebola Mejule, Michael Idowu Olugbade, Xerxes Shevar, Gcobisa Kehle, Loyiso Kula, Abiodun Tijani, Funmilayo Aliyu, Bola Peters, Samuel Sobaloju, Daniel Freeman, Nana Baffour and Kwame Asamoah. Doherty Kushimo faces 38 years in prison and Abiodun Bakre faces 36 years in prison. All sixteen defendants are subject to a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of loss to the victims. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment or information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.