Nigeria: 4 nationals extradited to US to face charges of wire fraud and identity theft

On Thursday, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida announced the successful extraditions of Akinola Taylor of the United Kingdom, Olayemi Adafin of the United Kingdom, Olakunle Oyebanjo of the United Kingdom, and Kazeem Olanrewaju Runsewe of Sweden. These individuals have been charged in the Middle District of Florida with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, filing false claims with the United States, theft of public money or property, and aggravated identity theft.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Taylor, Adafin, and Runsewe were arrested on November 30, 2022, and Oyebanjo was arrested on December 2, 2022. Taylor, Adafin, and Oyebanjo were apprehended in London, United Kingdom at the request of the United States, and Runswewe was apprehended in Malmo, Sweden at the request of the United States. In connection with the arrests, foreign authorities conducted searches of the residences of Taylor and Runsewe. These individuals first appeared in the Middle District of Florida in May and June 2023. Another related defendant, Ogunlana Oluwarotimi of Texas, was arrested in Texas in January 2023 and is currently pending trial.

If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracies, as well as additional penalties for the remaining counts. The indictments also notify the defendants that the United States intends to forfeit assets which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses.

According to their indictments, Taylor and Runsewe obtained unauthorized access to United States businesses’ computer servers, participated in stealing from those servers the personally identifying information (PII) of U.S. residents, and used that information to file false and fraudulent IRS Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns (“Form(s) 1040”) seeking income tax refunds from the IRS. Adafin, Oyebajno, Ogunlana, and others assisted in the collection of 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.

One of the places that Taylor and Runsewe had obtained unauthorized access to computer servers was the xDedic Marketplace, a website that operated for years and was used to sell access to compromised computers worldwide and the PII of U.S. residents. The xDedic administrators strategically maintained servers all over the world to facilitate the operation of the website.

The xDedic Marketplace was taken down as part of coordinated, global enforcement operations led by the FBI Tampa Division, the IRS-CI Tampa Field Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.



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