For allegedly engaging in computer fraud and stealing public funds in the US, four Nigerians have been detained in the UK and Sweden.
The United States Department of Justice announced this development in a news statement on Monday.
Akinola Taylor, Olayemi Adafin, Olakunle Oyenbanjo, and Kazeem Olanrewaju Runsewe, the defendants, were also charged with aggravated identity theft, and the DOJ claims that their crime was transnational in scope.
They might each receive a 20-year sentence if proven guilty.
The official statement read: “The United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the unsealing of four indictments charging Akinola Taylor (Nigeria), Olayemi Adafin (United Kingdom), Olakunle Oyebanjo (Nigeria), and Kazeem Olanrewaju Runsewe (Nigeria), with conspiring to commit wire fraud, submitting false claims to the United States, stealing public funds or property,
“On November 30, 2022, Taylor, Adafin, and Runsewe were all taken into custody. Oyebanjo was taken into custody on December 1 of the same year. Runswewe was detained in Malmo, Sweden, while Taylor, Adafin, and Oyebanjo were captured in London, United Kingdom. There will be extradition procedures for each. The homes of Taylor and Runsewe were searched by foreign officials in conjunction with the arrests.
“Each faces a potential sentence for the wire fraud count of 20 years in federal prison, as well as extra punishments for the other counts if found guilty. The charges also inform the defendants that the US wants to confiscate any assets thought to be linked to the commission of the crime.
“As per the indictments, Taylor and Runsewe gained unauthorized access to the computer servers of United States companies, took part in stealing personally identifying information from those servers, and then used that information to file phony and fraudulent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040, United States Individual Income Tax Returns (“Form(s) 1040”) seeking income tax refunds with the IRS.
“Oyebanjo once more helped with the recovery of fraud earnings targeted at prepaid debit cards they had in their possession, addresses they controlled, or bank accounts to which they had access, and he distributed a portion of the fraud revenues to other conspirators.
The xDedic Marketplace, a website that functioned for years and was used to sell access to hacked computers throughout the world as well as personally identifying information of US citizens, was one of the places where Taylor and Runsewe had obtained unauthorized access to computer systems. To make the website easier to operate, the xDedic admins deliberately maintained servers all around the world.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, the IRS-CI (Tampa Field Office), and the FBI (Tampa Division) coordinated international enforcement activities to take down the xDedic Marketplace.