Pair Used IRS Data-Retrieval Tool in $12-Million Scam, Indictment Says

Two men were indicted on Wednesday on 23 federal charges related to a $12-million identity-theft conspiracy that used the personal information of students applying for federal financial aid.

According to the indictment, the men, Taiwo K. Onamuti, 29, of Doraville, Ga., and Muideen A. Adebule, 49, of Indianapolis, used the Free Application for Federal Student Aid’s data-retrieval tool, which allows students to electronically fill out tax information while applying for grants and scholarships. In March the IRS and the Department of Education shelved the tool after identifying security risks. Last month Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reported that someone had attempted to view President Trump’s tax returns using the tool.

Mr. Onamuti and Mr. Adebule allegedly acquired names, Social Security numbers, and other personal information by purchasing it via email or taking it from the Fafsa data-retrieval tool between March 2014 and March 2016.

The stolen information was used to file false tax returns. Mr. Onamuti and Mr. Adebule then allegedly directed the IRS to deposit the refunds onto debit cards and used those cards to purchase money orders in Georgia and Indiana.

“The Onamuti organization is responsible for stealing the identities of thousands of victims, including students who were simply trying to apply for financial aid,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, in a news release from the Department of Justice.

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