There are no greater adjectives or adverbs (idioms do both!) to describe the fraud committed by Edwin Owie, Deborah McNeill and Osemwengie Imarhia than “Fast and Furious.” Not to be confused at all with the action films centralized around car races! But words like efficient and rapid just don’t describe the far-ranging fraud and identity theft ring created by Owie, McNeill, and Imarhia. How about timely and productive? Nope. Doesn’t nearly explain the effort by Owie, McNeill, and Imarhia in their multi-million dollar scheme. Because few have achieved as much in such a short amount of time like Owie, McNeill and Imarhia.
Day one of January 2020, Owie, McNeill, and Imarhia opened financial accounts using stolen personal identifying information from hundreds of victims with the intent to deposit and launder the proceeds of their planned and various fraudulent schemes. Day two of January 2020 through October 2020 (nine months!) they then used those stolen identities to fraudulently file for federal income tax refunds, economic impact payments, Small Business Administration loans, AND unemployment benefits. Four government funded programs. But wait. There is more.
Owie, McNeill and Imarhia filed for all those programs in at least twenty-one states! In total, their scheme caused a loss of at least $6 million in government funds. In just nine months, three fraudsters stole millions in taxpayers’ dollars from four U.S. government funded pandemic programs in twenty-one states! That is fast and furious. And hundreds of lives are now ruined.
On January 13, 2024, Edwin Owie and Deborah McNeill were sentenced to four years in prison. Osemwengie Imarhia was sentenced to two years in prison. $7 million has been ordered in restitution.
Excellent job by the Internal Revenue Service.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “3 from metro Atlanta sentenced in identity fraud, theft case, USAO says” published by WSBTV Atlanta on January 13, 2024
Three people from the metro Atlanta area were sentenced after stealing $6 million from the federal government. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia said they stole the funds through a “far-ranging fraud and identity theft ring” where they laundered government funds.
“In just a few months, these defendants used hundreds of stolen identities and laundered millions in fraud proceeds from government programs—several of which were designed to help those most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said. “Their sentences reflect the scope of their conduct and our commitment to partner with federal, state, and local investigators to prosecute individuals who seek to exploit government programs.”