CEDAR FALLS — A Nigerian man linked to bogus income tax filings for employees at the University of Northern Iowa and colleges in other states has been sentenced to prison.
Bernard Ogie Oretekor, 46, a former Georgia resident, was sentenced to seven years and one month in prison, according to court records. He was also ordered to pay $1.97 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the tax return scheme and another $910,000 to four people and two companies in fraud and bank account takeover scams.
He was sentenced May 3 in U.S. District Court in San Diego, Calif., where some of his early victims resided and where cases from Iowa, Tennessee and Michigan were transferred.
Oretekor pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud, money laundering, identity theft and theft of government property charges in July.
His prison time will be followed by three years of supervised release.
According to court records, authorities investigated Oretekor in connection with a 2012 scheme that involved sending “phishing” emails, bogus messages encouraging recipients to click on links that allowed Oretekor to access the victims’ email accounts. This allowed him to learn their financial information and use the accounts to redirect their funds to an overseas bank. He also was under investigation for claiming to be a South African diplomat who asked for money to cover fake fees with the promise of a $19 million payout.
When investigators searched his property in March 2015 in connection with the phishing and fraud probes, they found a computer containing personal information for UNI employees and workers at other universities.
The UNI information found in Oretekor’s computer was examined in connection with the investigation into a data breach at UNI in which more than 100 employees reported someone else had filed their tax returns and claimed their tax refunds.
Court records allege he was suspected of similar identity theft crimes involving employees at the University of Tennessee, Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., Michigan State University and Purdue and Butler universities in Indiana.