Leader of a Sophisticated Bank Fraud Scheme Sentenced To 8 Years in Prison
Recruited Bank Employees and College Students to Participate in the Scheme
Greenbelt, Maryland - Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Okechukwo Otuya, a/k/a “Oke”and “Waffi,” age 31, of Laurel, Maryland, today to eight years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Chief Judge Chasanow also ordered Otuya to pay restitution to Bank of America, with the exact amount to be determined at a later hearing.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; and Special Agent in Charge David Beach of the United States Secret Service – Washington Field Office.
According to evidence presented at the four day trial, in the fall of 2007 Otuya; Oluwadamilola Feyisetan, a/k/a Dami (Dami); Adeniyi Adebiyi, a/k/a Niyi (Niyi); Alexander Diya and others devised a scheme to defraud Bank of America by depositing stolen credit card convenience checks into legitimate Bank of America accounts and withdrawing the money before the bank learned that the checks were not authorized. Otuya and Dami were among the leaders in the scheme. Otuya, Dami and Niyi obtained the convenience checks by stealing them from homeowners’ mailboxes in Montgomery, Howard and Prince George’s Counties. Otuya and others recruited college students to permit the use of the students’ bank account (the “compromised accounts”) to deposit stolen credit card convenience checks and make cash withdrawals from the account after the checks cleared. Otuya and others also recruited bank employees to provide account information for “high end” bank customers, including the account name and numbers, customer’s signature cards or previously negotiated checks with appropriate signatures, and the customer’s address. That information was used to create fraudulent checks for those accounts.
In the Spring of 2008, Otuya became the supplier of the stolen checks used to make the deposits into the compromised accounts, as well as the primary supplier of the student account information. Otuya provided other accomplices with account information from the compromised accounts, debit cards and PINs to withdraw money from the compromised accounts. Otuya sometimes accompanied the accomplices by car to the different bank branches throughout Prince George’s County and Howard County where money was fraudulently withdrawn.
On two occasions in October 2008, Otuya was captured on ATM video surveillance cameras depositing unauthorized convenience checks into compromised bank accounts. Otuya was arrested on October 20, 2010. Unauthorized or stolen debit cards, identification cards and checks were found in a back pack he was carrying, along with bank printouts of a compromised account and a laptop computer that contained credit reports in the names of other people. A former bank employee, Malia Forrester, had previously sold the bank printouts to a co-conspirator.
Pursuant to the scheme, the total amount of fraudulent deposits made by the conspirators from over 50 compromised bank accounts is $1,421,616. The actual loss to Bank of America is $546,240.
Oluwadamilola Feyisetan, a/k/a Dami, a/k/a Lola (Dami), age 24, of Laurel; Alexander Diya; and Malia Forrester, age 31, of Millersville, Maryland have pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing. Adeniyi Adebiyi, a/k/a Niyi, a/k/a Mike (Niyi), age 28, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $148,000.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Secret Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Lenzner, Bryan Foreman and Robert Hur, who prosecuted the case.