April 23, 2014

Five Charged in Identity Theft Scheme with Thousands of Victims

ERIE, PA—Five 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 13-count superseding indictment, returned on April 8, 2014, named:

  • Doherty Kushimo, 52, of Providence, Rhode Island;
  • Saburi Adeyemi, 56, of Memphis, Tennessee;
  • Abiodun Bakre, 49, Ozone Park, New York;
  • Adetunji Gbadegeshi, 57, of Queens, New York; and
  • Adebola Mejule, 54, of Hempstead, New York, as defendants.

“We are making significant progress in our efforts to uncover identity fraud and protect citizens from criminals who steal their personal information and steal their money,” stated U.S. Attorney Hickton. “We have dismantled a massive stolen identity ring that involved thousands of victims and tens of millions of dollars in losses.”

“Investigating refund fraud and identity theft is a top priority for IRS-Criminal Investigation and perhaps one of our most intense challenges,” according to IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Akeia Conner. “Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

“The use of the Internet for criminal purposes is one of the most critical challenges facing the FBI and law enforcement in general,” added Patrick Fallon, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI. “In order to combat Internet fraud, it is essential for law enforcement officers not only to understand and use the Internet but also to join forces. This case illustrates the benefits of law enforcement and private industry, around the world, working together in partnership on computer crime investigations.”

According to the superseding indictment presented to the court, the five 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 other 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 approximately $21 million in fraudulent tax refunds was sought from the IRS by the conspirators, causing the IRS to pay approximately $10 million in fraudulent refunds.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison for Saburi Adeyemi, Adetunji Gbadegeshi, and Adebola Mejule. Doherty Kushimo faces 38 years in prison and Abiodun Bakre faces 36 years in prison. All five 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.

For more information about identity theft, please visit www.irs.gov or www.justice.gov.

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.