By John Ikani
One Bamidele Muraina, said to be an indigene of Oyo State, has been jailed in the United States of America for cyber fraud, involving hacking into tax preparation firms and filing of fraudulent unemployment benefit claims and tax returns.
The benefits were funds from programs meant to assist American workers and families seeking to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.
According to a press statement by the United States Department of Justice, Northern District of Georgia, Muraina was convicted alongside 33-year-old Gabriel Kalembo.
Muraina was said to have hacked into multiple tax preparation and accounting firms located in several states, including a Brunswick, Georgia-based accounting firm, between January 29, 2018, and April 2020.
He 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.
Muraina was also ordered to pay $561,125.62 in restitution.
He was sentenced along Gabriel Kalembo, a previously convicted fraudster who laundered the fraudulent assets.
“These criminals shamelessly stole people’s hard-earned tax returns and money meant to help families during the pandemic, but thankfully they were exposed and are now facing justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama.
“HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue those that seek to profit from these activities.
“The sentencing of the defendants should serve as a deterrent to all who intend to exploit the COVID-relief programs that were designated to assist those in need during the pandemic,” said Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
“Postal Inspectors will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate anyone that steals federal funds to enrich themselves and have them held accountable under the law,” he added.