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Minneapolis (KROC AM News) - Federal authorities say a Minnesota business was a victim of a hacking scheme that led to a huge income tax refund scam.

The US Attorney’s office says three indictments were unsealed Wednesday that identify the suspects as citizens of Nigeria.

According to investigators, the three and other suspects gained unauthorized access to approximately 1,200 individuals’ accounts maintained by the unnamed Minnesota company that provides human resource and payroll services to numerous businesses. The accounts were registered with a web-based program that allowed employees to download a copy of their IRS Form W-2 from an internet portal. 

Investigators also discovered the suspects gained unauthorized access to individuals’ accounts maintained by the Department of Education. 

The stolen information was then used to prepare and electronically file bogus tax returns with the IRS. Investigators say the suspects attempted to claim a total of approximately $16.4 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

The cyber scam began in 2016 and continued through 2018. 

The defendants are at large and believed to be in Nigeria.

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