Four indicted after hacking US businesses, filing false tax returns
Four men based in the United Kingdom and Sweden have been indicted on several charges related to an alleged effort to hack into the computers of several U.S. businesses and file fraudulent tax returns based on the stolen personal information.
Three of the men – Akinola Taylor, Olayemi Adafin and Olakunle Oyebanjo – were arrested on November 30 in London. The fourth man, Kazeem Olanrewaju Runsewe, was arrested in Malmo, Sweden on December 1. The indictments were unsealed on Monday.
All four are now facing extradition proceedings in their respective countries and if convicted in U.S. courts will face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
United States Attorney Roger Handberg accused the four of being involved in an elaborate scheme in which Taylor and Runsewe hacked into the computer servers of several American businesses and stole personally identifying information of U.S. residents.
The two then used that information to allegedly file tax returns in order to get tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. Adafin and Oyebanjo allegedly found a way to turn the tax returns into prepaid debit cards or transfer the funds to their bank accounts. A share of the funds was then sent to Taylor and Runsewe, according to the indictment.
The four have been charged with wire fraud, filing false claims with the United States, theft of public money or property, and aggravated identity theft.
The indictment notes that Taylor and Runsewe were able to gain access to the computers with the help of the xDedic Marketplace, a website where hackers sold access to compromised systems around the world and offered the personal information of U.S. residents.
The marketplace was taken down by the FBI, IRS and Justice Department in 2019.
The Justice Department noted that the investigation into Taylor, Runsewe, Adafin and Oyebanjo was led by the IRS Cyber Crimes Unit, FBI and Justice Department, with assistance from law enforcement in Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
The indictments came down on the same day it was announced that law enforcement agencies in 25 countries had joined forces with Europol to arrest 2,469 people allegedly involved in money laundering from mid-September to the end of November.
The U.S. worked with several countries across Europe, South America and Asia to disrupt the wide-ranging operation – which centered on taking down a network of money mules used to launder money stolen in a variety of scams.
More than 17.5 million Euros were intercepted during the two-month operation.