Jury convicts leader of worldwide tax return scheme in W.Va. federal court
MARTINSBURG, W.Va (WDTV) - The leader of an international conspiracy to file false U.S. tax returns and obtain millions of dollars in refunds has been convicted in federal court in West Virginia, officials said.
United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld said 45-year-old Ayodele Arasokun was convicted by a jury on twenty-one counts of wire fraud and aggravated identify theft.
From a location just outside of Paris, France, Ihlenfeld said Arasokun orchestrated a scheme to file 1,701 false returns and claim $9.1 million in refunds.
West Virginians were among those who had their identities stolen and false returns filed in their names.
A total of $2.2 million in fraudulent refunds were actually paid by the Internal Revenue Service.
“The jury’s verdict sends a clear message to criminals everywhere: don’t mess with the IRS,” said U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld. “We have the best cybercrime investigators in the world and if you tamper with our tax system, we will find you, extradite you, and incarcerate you.”
Evidence presented at trial established that Arasokun caused the money obtained from the IRS to be transferred to pre-paid debit cards or to checking accounts that he was monitoring, Ihlenfeld said. Investigators discovered that he was tracking approximately 700 U.S.-based accounts containing more than $50 million.
Originally from Nigeria, Arasokun is being held at Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg where he will remain until sentencing.
Ihlenfeld said his punishment will be based upon the amount of loss, his prior criminal history, and the penalties called for by statute.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Cogar and Eleanor Hurney.
It was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) - Cybercrime Investigations Division, and the IRS-CI, Los Angeles field office.
TIGTA investigates abuses of the IRS’s online electronic portals, including the Electronic Filing Pin application, which was compromised in this case.
U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh presided over the case.
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