News and Press Releases

Member of Identity Theft Ring Sentenced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2007

Las Vegas, Nev. – One of 15 individuals charged last year in an identity theft and bank fraud conspiracy that involved bank insiders, counterfeit checks and the theft of customer account information, was sentenced today to more than a year in federal prison, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Nelson Osemwengie, age 25, of Las Vegas, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt to 21 months in federal prison, 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit over $250,000 in assets and pay $253,065 in restitution. He pleaded guilty on August 30, 2006, to one count of Production of False Identification Documents and Aiding and Abetting and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Identity Theft, Bank Fraud and to Utter and Pass False Securities.

"This case illustrates the serious problems we are facing with identity theft and fraud in Nevada," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "The U.S. Attorney's Office, working in conjunction with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners, has made it a high priority to target and prosecute organized groups of criminals who use sophisticated techniques and prey on multiple victims to commit identity theft crimes."

Nelson Osemwengie and 15 others, three of whom worked at local banks, conspired to unlawfully obtain the information of bank account holders in order to produce counterfeit checks and fraudulently obtain monies and funds for their own personal benefit. Under Nelson Osemwengie's direction, the defendant bank employees fraudulently accessed customer bank accounts and transferred account information to Nelson Osemwengie, his brother Kingsley Osemwengie, and other co-conspirators. Nelson and Kingsley Osemwengie then accessed the bank accounts and made counterfeit checks payable to the defendants and their co-conspirators. The checks were passed and negotiated by members of the conspiracy using false identification.

Between December 24, 2004, and September 6, 2005, 12 Bank One accounts, eight Wells Fargo accounts, five Nevada State Bank accounts, and 12 Bank of America accounts were fraudulently accessed by the defendants and co-conspirators. The defendants allegedly negotiated or attempted to negotiate checks against Bank One accounts totaling $11,500, checks drawn against Nevada State Bank accounts totaling $144,213 and checks drawn against Bank of America accounts totaling $151,300.

Some of the false identification they manufactured, included Nevada Driver's Licenses and University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) student identification cards in the name of two victim account holders, but bearing the photograph of Kingsley Osemwengie.

Nelson Osemwengie's plea and sentence also resolved charges filed against him and five others in July 2005 for the production of counterfeit identification documents. In that case, Nelson Osemwengie admitted that he assisted in the production of counterfeit identification documents by providing his photograph to a co-schemer who produced a California and Florida driver's license in the names of two others.

Nelson Osemwengie consented to the forfeiture and/or abandonment of up to $261,565 in U.S. Currency, including a 2003 Land Rover Range Rover; a 2000 Mercedes S430 Sedan; funds in two bank accounts; U.S. Currency seized by Prescott, Arizona Police Department; a residence located at 2271 Chestnut Bluffs, in Henderson, Nevada; the business license and contents of "Premises Boutique;" a 2001 Porsche Boxter Convertible, and skimming equipment used to steal credit and bank account information.

All but four of the 20 defendants in both cases have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Two are awaiting trial and the other two are fugitives.

This case is a result of an investigation by the Southwestern Identity Theft and Fraud Task Force (SWIFT), comprised of representatives of the United States Secret Service, Henderson Police Department, Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles Criminal Enforcement Division, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly M. Frayn.

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