Around New England

Something About This Email Message Doesn’t Sound Right

September 18, 2018

Beware the email message from the Nigerian prince, especially if he’s writing from the superintendent’s office on an AOL account.

A Nigerian national who came to the United States on a 16-day visitor’s visa and never left has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after hacking the school district in Glastonbury, Connecticut and collecting the W-2 financial information of 1,600 employees. He was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer to 32 months in federal prison and ordered to repay $36,926 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Daniel Adekunle Ojo, 34, who arrived in the United States in May 2016 and stayed, eventually marrying, fathering a child, and taking up residency in Durham, North Carolina, is said to have sent an email message disguised as a query from the “executive assistant to the assistant superintendent” in which he requested tax information.

When Ojo acquired the information, which includes employees’ Social Security numbers, he used it to file 112 phony 1040 tax-return forms with the IRS, prosecutors say.

The returns would have netted Ojo $596,897 in refunds, but according to a report in the Connecticut Post, the scam only netted six processed returns of $36,926, the amount the court demanded Ojo repay.

The report adds that the employee who received the bogus email message from an AOL account and attached the employee data in an email reply has since been fired. The initial phishing scam occurred in February 2017.

In defense of Ojo, federal public defender Tracy Hayes told the court that at the time the crimes occurred the defendant was having financial trouble and his car had been stolen. 

The prosecutor, assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala, rejoined by saying that Ojo’s scheme may involve others who still “have access to the victims’ personal information and could use it over and over again for nefarious purposes,” the Connecticut Post story says.

The Connecticut Post also says that victims have had to take legal and financial actions to protect their assets and identities from further exploitation. 

“Who knows how long this event will follow me or the long term implications of my identity [theft] will be affected by this person’s actions,” a Glastonbury victim wrote the court, according to the Connecticut Post.



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