United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
REPEAT IDENTITY THIEF SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR PASSPORT FRAUD
Woman Arrested At Border With Passport in False Name As She Tried to Enter Canada
BIODUN OKUNNU, 39, a former resident of the United Kingdom and Nigeria, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 51 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Use of Passport Secured by False Statement, and Aggravated Identity Theft. OKUNNU was arrested February 18, 2011, at the Blaine, Washington Port of Entry after she was refused entry into Canada. OKUNNU presented a U.S. passport which she obtained by using a stolen identity, and officers with U.S. Customs & Border Protection discovered an outstanding Florida State warrant for OKUNNU’s arrest under that alias. OKUNNU has a ten year history of identity theft related crimes in the United States. At sentencing U.S. District Judge James L. Robart noted that OKUNNU has 17 different aliases, four alternative dates of birth, and has used three different Social Security Numbers. “That is someone who is doing ID theft as a business,” Judge Robart said.
According to filings in the case, OKUNNU claims to have entered the U.S. on a United Kingdom passport in 2000. She settled in Florida, where she was prosecuted multiple times for fraud involving other people’s identities, forgery and credit cards. In 2005, she obtained a U.S. passport in a false identity. After another conviction in 2006 for grand theft, identity theft and credit card fraud, OKUNNU was sentenced to four years probation. She violated the terms of that probation and a warrant was issued for her arrest. She apparently left Florida, and was arrested in Minnesota in 2007. In her car officers discovered multiple identity documents, including Texas ID cards and a California driver’s license, in a variety of names. Just a month later, OKUNNU was arrested in Florida when she tried to make a withdrawal at a bank using false ID. She was found to have multiple drivers’ licenses in different names and various credit cards in false names. She was sentenced to a year in prison. In 2009 and 2010, OKUNNU apparently traveled abroad using the U.S. passport she obtained in the false identity. She traveled to Nigeria, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada. OKUNNU’s string of frauds ended when she was arrested at the border.
Patrick Durkin, Special Agent in Charge of the Diplomatic Security Service San Francisco Field Office, said, “The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to investigating and pursuing anyone who applies for or obtains a United States passport using false identification documents. The U.S. passport and visa are two of the most coveted travel documents in the world. There are foreign nationals who fraudulently acquire U.S. passports and visas to carry out criminal activities, including financial fraud, inside our borders. These crimes threaten the livelihood of American citizens and the national security of the United States.”
In asking for a 51 month sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court that it was necessary to protect the public. “It is readily apparent that the only significant periods of time over the past eleven years during which Okunnu has not committed any crime have been those in which she was incarcerated. Even these repeated arrests, court appearances, incarcerations, and periods of probation have not deterred her from further criminal conduct,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.
The case was investigated by the Diplomatic Security Service with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Marci Ellsworth. Ms. Ellsworth is an attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) specially designated to prosecute cases in federal court.