CEDAR FALLS – Authorities in Michigan have charged a Georgia man suspected of being behind the 2014 tax refund scam involving University of Northern Iowa employees.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan on Tuesday filed an information charging Bernard Ogie Oretekor, 45, with identity theft. The charge alleges Oretekor possessed personal identification information of people with intent to commit a false claim to the United States government.
Details of the allegations weren’t available, but prosecutors said the crime occurred in November 2013 in Oakland County, Michigan.
Records in other cases against Oretekor show that authorities found personal information associated with employees at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., on his computer during a search of a storage locker in Ellenwood, Ga., in October 2014. Rochester is located in Oakland County.
Oakland University’s police department put out a release in February 2014 indicating the IRS was assisting with the investigation of a tax refund scam involving the identities of Oakland University employees.
Other identities found on Oretekor’s computers belonged to employees at Michigan State University in Lansing, University of Northern Iowa, University of Tennessee, and Purdue and Butler universities in Indiana, court records state. Workers at some of the universities had reported that someone had filed tax returns in their names and collected their refunds.
Federal prosecutors with Iowa’s Northern District charged Oretekor with theft of government property and aggravated identity theft in January 2016, and federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged him earlier this month in connection with refunds stolen from UT employees.
Oretekor, a Nigerian citizen who has used the name Emmanuel Libs, has been in custody in California since October 2014 when he was charged with advance fee fraud and email takeover schemes that redirected money from victims’ bank accounts.