Olathe woman sentenced in identity theft scheme

(KSN photo)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – An Olathe woman was sentenced Tuesday for a scheme to collect income tax refunds by creating companies that existed only on paper.

Raquel Odegbaro, 44, of Olathe, was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $894,000 in restitution. She pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of mail fraud.

A co-defendant in the case also pleaded guilty. Abdirizak Aden, 33, of Kansas City pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

In their pleas, Odegbaro and Aden said they operated Cokeza Styles, an online business that sold hair products. They admitted to creating a series of fictitious companies and filing tax returns in the names of so-called employees by providing false information about wages earned, amounts withheld and refunds due. The false tax returns directed the Internal Revenue Service to deposit refunds electronically to reloadable credit cards controlled by the conspirators. The individuals whose names appeared on the refunds never actually worked for the fictitious companies.

In addition, the conspirators used stolen Social Security numbers to apply for unemployment benefits from the Kansas Department of Labor. They created more than nine fictitious companies and registered them with the labor department. They filed false claims in the names of employees who purportedly were terminated without fault.

Aden is set for sentencing Oct. 2. The parties have agreed to recommend a sentence of 18 months and restitution of approximately $541,000.