Ringleader Imprisoned In International HELOC Fraud
NEW YORK – A Nigerian national who headed a multi-national identity theft and fraud operation, which involved stealing money from home equity lines of credit accounts from credit union and banks, on Friday was sentenced to 69 months in prison.
Hakeem Olokodana, 43, a leading member of an international identity theft ring that operated out of US, UK, Canada, China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and several other countries, was ordered to pay almost $3 million restitution.
The operation focused on withdrawing money from HELOC accounts using the stolen identities of thousands of victims. The victims included members of Navy FCU, Pentagon FCU, State Department FCU, U.S. Senate FCU, and major banks such as Citibank, JPMorganChase, Wachovia, Washington Mutual and Bank of America.
The stolen account information included account holder names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, account numbers and account balances.
In some cases the sensitive information such as mother's maiden names, security question answers or online banking user names and passwords also was compromised.
Members of the ring impersonated credit union and bank customers over the phone, used caller ID spoofing and modified customers’ addresses on bank records.
A significant portion of the illegal proceeds was sent abroad to members of the gang located in countries such as Japan, Nigeria, Canada, South Korea and others.