A Bloomington man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing the identities of hundreds of people and using their personal information to file false tax returns and collect millions of dollars in tax refunds.
A federal judge imposed the sentence Tuesday for Ayotomide Ajifowobaje, 29, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger.
Luger said between May 2014 and February 2015, Ajifowobaje bought personal identifying information of more than 450 people across the U.S. – including their names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers – and used that information to file fraudulent income tax returns in their names.
Ajifowobaje set up fake email addresses to track the status of the returns and the expected refunds. He used the same stolen identities to buy and activate hundreds of debit cards to collect the refunds from the IRS, according to Luger.
Ajifowobaje filed some of the false tax returns from hotels using free wi-fi to try to conceal his identity.
“Ajifowobaje’s case highlights how seriously IRS Criminal Investigation and the United States Attorney's Office take the issue of identity theft,” said Special Agent in Charge Shea Jones of the St. Paul Field Office IRS Criminal Investigation. “We will continue to investigate those who prey on innocent taxpayers to steal their identities and file false tax returns.”
Luger said the scheme amounted to millions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds going to Ajifowobaje and his co-conspirators, although he wasn't more specific about the amount.
Ajifowobaje pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to defraud the government and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 110 months in prison, and three years of supervised release.
Three weeks ago, a Prior Lake couple pleaded guilty to a similar stolen identity/tax fraud scheme whose victims were primarily immigrants. Mark Hammerschmidt, 48, and his wife Ornella Hammerschmidt, 36, were accused of defrauding the goverment of $1.8 million. They are awaiting sentencing.