Feds: DeKalb man stole identities of college students with FAFSA data

2:34 p.m Friday, June 9, 2017 DeKalb County
Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
The federal government removed the data retrieval tool from the financial aid websites in March until extra security protections could be added.

A Doraville man is accused of running an elaborate operation to steal the identities of college students by using a tool on federal financial aid websites.

Taiwo K. Onamuti, 29, and co-defendant Muideen A. Adebule, 49, of Indianapolis, Indiana, were indicted on 23 federal charges, Indianapolis U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced this week.

The Department of Education and IRS removed the data retrieval tool from fafsa.gov and studentloans.gov in March until protections could be added, Minkler said. But the process has caused disruptions for parents and students who were trying to submit assistance application forms.

The tool allowed families to import tax information to the site. The authorities haven’t made entirely clear how the suspects allegedly used the tool.

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“The organization’s criminal conduct disrupted countless lives, and led to the theft of more than $12 million from the United States Treasury — money that could and should have been spent for the benefit of the taxpayer,” the U.S. attorney said. 

The indictment alleges Onamuti, Adebule and others acquired sensitive personal information by either purchasing it via email, or through the tool on fafsa.gov. They allegedly used the information to file false tax returns with the IRS and had the refunds put on prepaid debit cards.

With the debit cards, they got money orders in Indiana and Georgia, the U.S. attorney said. 

The total allegedly stolen in tax refunds, from returns submitted between 2014 and 2016, was $12,686,634.

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