Baltimore man pleads guilty to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft in furtherance of a stolen identity tax fraud scheme


Date: May 9, 2024


On May 8, 2024, Dolapo Lawal, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty to federal charges of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Kareem A. Carter of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.

According to the guilty plea, Lawal knowingly and willfully participated in and executed a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme to obtain fraudulent tax refunds using the identities of elderly victims, then load those refunds onto debit cards tied to bank accounts opened in the victims’ names, send those cards to secure known addresses throughout the United States, and finally withdraw those refunds in cash.

As outlined at his guilty plea Lawal’s involvement in the scheme can be grouped into two efforts.

In the first instance, Lawal intentionally trafficked and used 24 Green Dot Bank debit cards in elderly victims’ names in the spring of 2022. These cards were fraudulently loaded with more than $200,000 in 2021 tax refunds, which were fraudulently obtained through identity theft. On April 8, 2022, the Baltimore County Police Department lawfully stopped and searched Lawal’s Mercedes S-class sedan. During the search, officers found approximately $18,900 in cash and these 24 debit cards in a bag left under Lawal’s seat. Lawal admitted to officers on the scene that this was his bag. The vehicle also contained multiple plastic bags filled with opened packaging for these or similar debit cards. Cell tower pings, automated license plate reader data, bank records, and Lawal’s admissions to law enforcement show that Lawal had used these 24 cards to conduct more than 300 cash withdrawals at ATMs to obtain more than $80,000 in the preceding month. Lawal later admitted that he used these fraudulent debit cards on multiple occasions to conduct cash withdrawals for his personal benefit – specifically to make payments on his Mercedes and to pay off personal credit card debt.

In the second instance, Lawal possessed over 300 additional unique Green Dot Bank debit cards in his home on or about June 21, 2023. That day, law enforcement executed a search warrant on Lawal’s residence. During the search, IRS-CI agents found, among other items, a box containing more than 300 additional unique Green Dot Bank debit cards. Lawal’s iPhone – also seized pursuant to the same search warrant – contained photographs of several of these cards along with portions of the packaging for each of the cards that had the bank account number and routing number for the corresponding account associated with the card. Approximately 200 of these cards were linked to bank accounts opened in the names of additional victims, which were listed as the direct deposit accounts for fraudulent 2021 and 2022 tax refund claims filed in the names of those same victims. Many of these tax returns were filed after Lawal’s April 8, 2022, traffic stop. The total amount of fraudulent tax refund claims associated with these cards was over $3 million. The IRS had not issued these refund claims before law enforcement searched Lawal’s home.

In total, Lawal’s offenses furthered a scheme to defraud the United States of over $3 million.

Lawal faces a maximum of ten years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release for access device fraud. He also faces a minimum mandatory sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, which will run consecutive to the access device fraud sentence, followed by up to one year of supervised release.

Reporting from consumers about fraud and fraud attempts is critical to law enforcements efforts to investigate and prosecute schemes targeting older adults. If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available the National Elder Fraud Hotline, 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311). This Department of Justice Hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying next steps, including identifying appropriate reporting agencies, providing information to callers to assist them in reporting or connecting them with agencies, and providing resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis. The hotline is staffed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available. More information about the Department’s elder justice efforts can be found on the Department’s Elder Justice website. Victims are encouraged to file a complaint online with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at this website or by calling 800-225-5324.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the IRS-CI for its work in the investigation and thanked the Baltimore County Police Department for its assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph L. Wenner, and Paul Riley, who are prosecuting the federal case.