PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WYTV) – Federal agents have charged five men in connection with opening fraudulent bank accounts across the country and in Pennsylvania to defraud the United States government of nearly $10 million in tax refunds.
According to a release from U.S. Attorney David Hickton, five men from New York, Memphis and Rhode Island stole thousands of social security numbers and identities of U.S. citizens to open bank accounts between December 2005 and March 2014. During that time, the men filed IRS 1040 tax forms claiming $21 million in refunds, of which $10 million was paid to the fraudulent accounts.
Investigators said the men used “clean identities” of people they thought were unlikely to file a tax return and used their information to file tax forms with fraudulent earnings and withholdings.
The investigation began in December 2012 when an alert Erie credit union employee contacted the FBI to report suspected fraud related to several bank account applications submitted via the Internet that listed the same personal identification information for different names. From the initial information, the FBI and IRS in Erie, Pennsylvania, working with the FBI and IRS in New York, Providence and Memphis discovered thousands of fraudulent bank accounts tied to this scheme that had been opened at hundreds of financial institutions throughout the country. Those financial institutions included PNC Bank in Pittsburgh, and Widget Financial in Erie, according to the release.
Doherty Kushimo, of Providence Rhode Island, Saburi Adeyemi, of Memphis Tennessee, Abiodum Bakre of Queens, New York, Adetunji Gbadegshi, of Queens New York and Adebula Mejule of Hempstead, New York were charged with 13 counts of fraud and theft.
Investigators are anticipating more charges against the men and more victims to be revealed when the credit card fraud portion of the investigation is included in the final indictment.