Dec 11, 2012 6:08 PM
TUCSON - A 34-year-old man was arrested Friday in Tempe after a tax fraud and identity theft investigation that began early this year, when authorities found a flash drive containing hundreds of names and personal information at Cochise College.
Back in February, the Sierra Vista Police Department was contacted by Cochise College employees after a flash drive was left in a school computer. On it were 800 to 900 names and associated personal information, according to a news release from SVPD.
Detective Colin Festa obtained a search warrant for the drive and uncovered files with stolen identities and financial information, the release states. Because much of the information involved people from other states, assistance was obtained from the IRS and the Secret Service.
The investigation determined that Osabuohien Odyssey Oronsaye, a 34-year-old man originally from Nigeria, had purchased the names and information online for $1.50 per name, and was using the information to prepare tax returns and place the tax refund money on prepaid debit cards.
The names were illegally obtained by internet phishing scams, SVPD's Detective Festa stated, often via e-mails made to look like legitimate communications from credit card companies and banks.
On December 5, a federal grand jury in Tucson returned a 58-count indictment against Oronsaye, charging him with false claims, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and access device fraud.
"IRS Criminal Investigation has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority," stated Gabriel Grchan, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Office of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. "Filing fraudulent tax returns in the names of other individuals may result in significant harm to those individuals whose identities were stolen, as well as a monetary loss against the U.S. Treasury."
"The Sierra Vista Police Department has been dealing with identity theft and credit card fraud in our area for years. We were pleased to work with the IRS and Secret Service to obtain this 58 count indictment and are committed to providing the best possible service to the citizens of Sierra Vista," stated Corporal Scott Borgstadt of the Sierra Vista Police Department.