A 35-year-old Nigerian man identified as Olukayode Ibrahim Lawal, was on Thursday indicted in Connecticut federal court, for reportedly tricking school districts across the country into sending him the personal information of thousands of workers and using it to file fraudulent tax returns.
The suspect who is in the U.S. on an expired visa according to prosecutors, went to America on Thanksgiving Day 2016, on a visitor’s visa but didn’t leave a week later as he was supposed to. Lawal who allegedly committed the crimes a couple of months later, according to an arrest affidavit written by an FBI cybercrime investigator sent an email to a coastal Conneticut public school district employee that appeared to be from the school system’s superintendent. The email address was “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
It was gathered that 100 “suspicious” 1040 forms were filed in the names of the school’s employees, including some who were owed refunds, the feds said. Three of the bunk refunds were processed, and $23,000 was dispensed from the IRS.
AJC reported that the IP address records showed that somoene at Lawal’s apartment in Smyrna had the sensitive information in email accounts. Another school district was duped and had 103 fake 1040s filed. A refund from one of those returns, totaling $4,207, was deposited into an account that had withdrawals in Marietta and Hiram. In another Connecticut district where 122 tax forms were filed in the scheme, Lawal made out with about $37,000 in tax refunds. .
Lawal also targeted school districts in Texas and Oklahoma, along with at least 11 businesses. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for his wire fraud charges. The Nigerian man was arrested on May 9 following a federal criminal complaint at his residence. He appeared before a judge in Atlanta and was ordered detained pending his transfer to Connecticut.
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said the accused is charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He also stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.