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Justice Department said, "Bamidele Muraina, a Nigerian national who hacked into tax preparation firms and filed fraudulent unemployment benefit claims and tax returns using stolen personally identifiable information, and Gabriel Kalembo, a previously convicted fraudster who laundered the fraudulent assets, have been sentenced to federal prison." Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said: "These defendants stole funds from programs meant to assist American workers and families seeking to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. "The collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners were essential to disrupting a sophisticated network of criminals and bringing their leaders to justice." Bamidele Muraina engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the Employment Security Department of Washington State (“ESD-WA”) by filing dozens of fraudulent unemployment insurance (UI) claims in the names of identity theft victims who were not entitled to such benefits.
Muraina obtained access to the firms’ accounts with a national tax preparation program, stole personally identifiable information from their clients, and filed more than 275 fraudulent individual income tax returns in their names via the Internet. In total, Muraina’s fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities sought refunds from the IRS exceeding $2.6 million from 2018 through 2020.
Bamidele Muraina, 35, of Oyo, Nigeria was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William M. Ray II to five years and ten months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and he ordered Muraina to pay $561,125.62 in restitution. Gabriel Kalembo, 33, of Atlanta, Georgia was sentenced by Judge Ray to four years and two months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release, and he ordered Kalembo to pay $298,008.71 in restitution.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathan P. Kitchens, Chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section, Sarah E. Klapman, and Lauren T. Macon are prosecuting the case.
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