Journal Inquirer

Aug. 5, 2017

GLASTONBURY — A Nigerian man in the United States on an expired visa was arrested Thursday in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain personal information of some 1,600 Glastonbury Public School staff, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said that Daniel Adekunle Ojo, 33, a citizen of Nigeria residing in Durham, North Carolina, was arrested on charges that he conspired to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Those offenses carry maximum prison terms of 20 years and at least 2 years, respectively.

Ojo was arrested at his North Carolina home and will be transferred to Connecticut.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office in New Haven, special agents from the FBI’s cybercrime squad in New Haven and the IRS began investigating Ojo amid “phishing” emails sent to a Glastonbury school employee in February that appeared to be sent by another employee requesting copies of W-2 information.

The recipient responded by sending copies of the W-2 information for approximately 1,600 Glastonbury schools employees.

Prosecutors said that after the confidential information was sent, approximately 122 “suspicious” resident income tax forms were filed electronically with the IRS in the names of victims of the Glastonbury phishing scheme.

A total of $596,897 in refunds was claimed in the 122 tax returns, as six of the returns were processed, resulting in $36,926 in fraudulently obtained funds that were electronically deposited in various bank accounts, federal officials said.

Ojo had used web-based email accounts in the scheme to obtain Glastonbury school employees’ personal information to use for personal gain.

 Prosecutors said the ongoing investigation includes phishing incidents that victimized school employees in Groton Public Schools and the Bloomington Independent School District in Bloomington, Minnesota.

 In March, a Groton schools’ employee also responded to a disguised email requesting W-2 forms from a coworker, sending the information of 1,300 employees.

About 66 suspicious resident income tax forms were again filed with the IRS using the names of Groton schools employees. The tax returns claimed refunds totaling $364,188, however, the fraudulent returns were not processed because they were flagged as part of the identity theft scheme.

Federal authorities said Ojo entered the United Stated on a visitor’s visa May 23, 2016, and failed to leave as scheduled on June 8, 2016.

Federal authorities are investigating the matter with assistance from the Durham Police Department.

Daly said cyber criminals are becoming more skilled in exploiting technology to steal identity information from victims. To help curb the problem, she urged people to double check links before clicking them.

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“Fortunately, our cyber investigators are skilled at cracking these crimes and catching these fraudsters,” Daly said. “I commend the FBI cybercrime squad and IRS for quickly bringing this individual to justice.”

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