3 Nigerians indicted for attempting to steal $16 million in fraudulent tax returns

Three Nigerian men have been indicted for attempting to claim $16.4 million in fraudulent tax returns from employees using, in part, a Minnesota-based human resource and payroll company’s web portal and financial information from the Department of Education.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis announced the indictments of Olufemi Oluwaseun Banjo, 37, Francis Nwabueze Iwuoha, 38 and Oluwadamilare Gbenga Macaulay, 32 Wednesday. The men are charged with various counts of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy.

All three men are at large and authorities believe they are in Nigeria.

According to the indictments, between March 2016 and February 2018, the three men gained unauthorized access to the accounts of thousands of individuals. They stole Personal Identifying Information (PII) and IRS W-2 Forms, which they used to file false tax returns in the names of the people seeking fraudulent refunds.

As part of their scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says the men gained access to 1,200 accounts from the Minnesota-based HR and payroll service that allowed them access to W-2 forms. Charges say the men also gained access to accounts maintained by the Department of Education.