Nigerian Citizen Ordered to Prison for Defrauding US Victims
HOUSTON – A 34-year-old Nigerian man who was residing in Houston has been ordered to prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Azeez Abiodun Balogun pleaded guilty Oct. 27, 2017.
Today, U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. handed Balogun a 75-month sentence. Not a U.S. citizen, Balogun is expected to face deportation proceedings following the sentence. At the hearing, the court noted that this was a sophisticated scheme that began in 2015 and that he only stopped when he caught.
From on or about Jan. 1, 2015, through April 13, 2017, Balogun was involved in a conspiracy that involved many schemes to defraud via the U.S. mail and using personal identifying information (PII) of individuals without their permission.
He would open bank accounts with counterfeit passports in order to facilitate fraud payments into these accounts. Balogun would then use the stolen PII to apply for credit cards. He opened approximately 30 credit card accounts at Bank of America, Chase Bank and others by using the stolen information.
Additionally, he also engaged in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) in which he would use the stolen PII to apply for tax refunds. The stolen funds were then loaded onto prepaid debit cards and mailed to addresses Balogun or others controlled in the Houston area.
The investigation unraveled approximately 10 different identities and passports Balogun used to open bank accounts and receive fraudulent funds from the various his schemes. The total loss attributed to his conduct is $2,976,265.
He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation along with Department of State – Diplomatic Security Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case.