Former online brokerage employee sentenced to prison for wire fraud
Texas man engaged in kick-back scheme, inflating account referral numbers for personal gain
Seattle – A former Washington State football player who had brief stints with two NFL teams was sentenced today to one year in prison for his kickback scheme that defrauded his employer of $1.5 million. AUGUSTINE OLOBIA, 49, of Hurst, Texas, pleaded guilty in April 2019 to wire fraud, admitting he took kickbacks for falsifying data on account referrals while he was employed at ShareBuilder. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik told him, “You made a severe mistake… You were taking too much pride in things that didn’t matter.”
According to records filed in the case, OLOBIA worked at ShareBuilder in Seattle from 1999 to 2013. OLOBIA was responsible for managing the third-party vendors who advertised ShareBuilder’s services. Those vendors were paid on a “bounty system.” For example, ShareBuilder paid Tega Creative $40-$55 per account that was opened after a customer opened a brokerage account at ShareBuilder as a result of Tega Creative’s marketing efforts. OLOBIA manipulated data in ShareBuilder’s computer system to vastly inflate the number of account openings attributable to Tega Creative’s marketing. Then he approved invoices issued by Tega Creative that were based on the inflated numbers. For example in 2007, Tega Creative was credited with about 2,000 account openings. In 2008, as a result of the fraud, Tega Creative was credited with 10,000 account openings. OLOBIA was secretly paid about one-third of the gross monthly payment from ShareBuilder to Tega Creative. The loss to ShareBuilder’s owner, Capital One, is estimated at more than $1.5 million.
The scheme was uncovered when OLOBIA left ShareBuilder and other employees tried to reconcile the number of accounts attributed to Tega Creative.
In asking for the prison sentence, prosecutors noted that OLOBIA had a fortunate upbringing as a child in Nigeria, and later as a member of the Nigerian Olympic team. He was a recruited athlete at a university in Houston and later as a football player at WSU. He graduated with a degree in business administration and held a number of good jobs. Despite those advantages, OLOBIA engaged in a fraud that lasted about five years and cost his employer $1.5 million.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Lasnik ordered OLOBIA to forfeit $500,000 – the amount he gained from the scheme. Restitution will be determined at a hearing on December 6, 2019.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Dion.