Four Nigerians arrested recently in Europe have been charged in the United States over their alleged role in a scheme that involved computer hacking and filing false tax returns.
According to the US Justice Department, the suspects are Akinola Taylor, Olakunle Oyebanjo, Kazeem Olanrewaju Runsewe, and Olayemi Adafin, who is a UK citizen. They were arrested in late November and early December in the UK and Sweden.
The men have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, filing false claims with the United States, theft of public money or property, and aggravated identity theft.
The United States wants them to be extradited to face the charges brought against them. They can each be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charges.
Court documents showed that Taylor and Runsewe hacked into the systems of US businesses in an effort to steal personal information that could be used to file false tax returns with the IRS.
“Adafin and Oyebanjo assisted in the collection fraud proceeds directed to prepaid debit cards in their possession or to addresses or bank accounts they controlled or to which they had access and transferred a share of the fraud proceeds to other conspirators,” the DoJ said on Monday.
The operation started in around 2017. The cybercriminals hacked into the systems of accounting and other types of firms and stole personally identifiable information, often belonging to the victim’s customers.
The access to the targeted organizations was in many cases acquired from xDedic, an underground marketplace specializing in the sale of access to hacked servers. xDedic was shut down in 2019 by law enforcement in the United States and Europe.