Local man indicted in $1 million identity theft scheme
HOUSTON – A 34-year-old Nigerian man who resided in Houston has been charged with conspiracy, bank fraud and aggravated identify theft, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Julius Joachim Ohumole is set to appear at 10 a.m. today before U.S. District Judge Dena Hanovice Palermo. A Houston grand jury returned the seven-count indictment Dec. 19. He was originally charged by criminal complaint Nov. 8 and later taken into custody.
Ohumole is charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated identify theft.
The charges allege Ohumole opened a bank account in the name of Mars Construction (MARS) Dec. 5, 2018, at Regions Bank in Houston. At that time, he allegedly used false identification documents which identified him as someone else.
Later than month, Ohumole accompanied another individual to Regions who used false identification documents to appear as an actual accountholder with the bank, according to the allegations. Ohumole allegedly requested that person be added as a co-signor to the MARS account which then allowed it to be linked to the real accountholder.
According to the allegations, an unknown individual transferred $274,000 from the real Regions account to the MARS account without the true person’s consent, knowledge or authorization. The same day, all but $1,000 of those funds were allegedly wired transferred to a bank account in New York and subsequently out of the country. A similar set of transactions involving approximately $200,000 occurred a few days later, according to the charges.
The allegations also state Ohumole allegedly went to another Regions Bank and again used false identification documents to open a separate account, this time in the name of JMW Holt Constructions (JMW). Similarly, he allegedly accompanied another person who used fake documents to appear as a bank accountholder and requested their addition as a co-signor. Again, the scheme involved the transfer of thousands of dollars – approximately $805,000 – from the real account to the JMW account, then to an account in New York and out of the United States, according to the charges.
Each count of conspiracy and bank fraud carries a possible sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison and the aggravated identify theft charge carries up to two years, upon conviction. Each conviction also carries a possible $1 million maximum fine.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Braddock is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.