Dothan, Alex City PD help take down $12 million identity theft, tax fraud racket
Two Alabama police departments aided in the investigation of a “sophisticated” identity theft and tax fraud scheme, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a press release on Tuesday, the DOJ announced that a federal grand jury sitting in St. Louis returned an indictment, which was unsealed on Monday, against a Missouri resident for his role in filing fraudulent tax refunds using other individuals’ stolen identities.
The information released on the indictment was mostly technical in nature, revealing a complex racket spanning at least four states – Alabama, Missouri, Utah and Nevada. Babatunde Olusegun Taiwo is charged with conspiracy to file false claims, mail fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The DOJ specifically praised the work of the Dothan Police Department and the Alexander City Police Department for their investigative work to make the indictment possible. The department also highlighted the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, which is based in Montgomery, for their work in helping prosecute the case.
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 the unnamed accomplices 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 authorization several Electronic Filing Identification Numbers issued in the names of tax preparation businesses. The indictment charges that 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 to be sent to an accomplice’s residence in St. Louis.
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.
If convicted, Taiwo faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to file false claims count, 20 years in prison for each count of wire and mail fraud, 15 years for each count of access device fraud and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft. The defendant also faces substantial monetary penalties, supervised release, restitution and forfeiture.
Special agents of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service also investigated this case.
The release noted that, “An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn