Man arrested in Glen Ridge arraigned on fraud, identity theft charges

A man arrested during a traffic stop in Glen Ridge three years ago is now facing 31 federal charges of tax fraud and identity theft, in what authorities believe was a more than $3 million tax fraud scheme.

Kole Akinola, 40, a Nigerian citizen who had been living in Livingston at the time of his arrest, was arraigned in federal court in Newark on April 1, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. Akinola is accused of participating in a scheme in which the perpetrators used stolen identities to create fake tax returns, and to obtain tax refunds.

The investigation began when Akinola was pulled over for driving while intoxicated on Bloomfield Avenue on April 27, 2011. During the stop, police found a satchel in Akinola’s car that contained numerous pieces of personal identification. “I mean, numerous, numerous pieces of identities,” Police Lt. Fred Egnezzo told the Glen Ridge Voice at the time.

The items included money orders, drivers’ licenses, tax returns and pre-paid Turbo Tax cards and receipts, as well as at least eight cell phones, police said at the time.

The investigation was handed over to federal authorities, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Treasury Department.

Akinola was also be found to be in possession of a list of more than 700 inmates at the Union County Correctional Facility; the list included the inmates’ names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

It is believed that Akinola and the other participants taking part in the scheme illegally obtained Social Security numbers and other identification belonging to third parties, including people who were in prison at the time. The IDs were then used to create fake 1040 tax forms, which were then filed. The refunds were requested as prepaid debit cards, which the perpetrators could then have mailed to them.

Akinola has been charged with one count of conspiring to steal government funds, 10 counts of misusing the personal identification of others, 10 counts of illegally using Social Security numbers and 10 counts of aggravated identity theft. He is also facing a final order of removal to Nigeria.

The press release also indicated that even while detained at Hudson County Correctional Facility, Akinola had reportedly been found to be in possession of a cell phone and inmate population reports. Those reports, as with the list from the Union County Correctional Facility, contained the personal information of hundreds of inmates.


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