Criminal Justice

Customers Targeted by Workers at Big-Name Banks in Multimillion Dollar ID Theft Schemes

Employees of some of the nation’s biggest banks have reportedly been stealing customers’ identities in multimillion dollar fraud schemes.

A federal judge in Minneapolis on Monday sentenced two claimed leaders of a $50 million bank fraud conspiracy to well over 20 years in prison, the Associated Press reports.

Julian Okeayaninneh of Colton, Calif., got 27 years; and New Yorker Olugbenga Temidago Adeniran got 22 years. They are among 27 people who have either pleaded guilty or been convicted in the case so far, the news agency recounts. The claimed conspiracy, which operated between 2006 and 2011 in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Texas, involved identities stolen from some 500 bank customers worldwide, which were sold to other criminals and then used to set up fake bank and credit card accounts and apply for loans.

The stiff sentences “send a clear message to those identity thieves and fraudsters who conspire with dishonest bank employees to wreak havoc on the personal finances of innocent customers,” said U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones of Minnesota in a written statement.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that three former New York employees of the biggest U.S.-based bank have pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to conspiracy to steal government funds.

Prosecutors said Katherine Torres, Rosalind Smith and Judith Fulgencio had roles in two tax refund schemes, in 2006 and 2007, that involved stealing the identities of Puerto Rican customers and filing returns in their names. The Internal Revenue Service and New York state tax authorities were allegedly cheated out of a total of $4.8 million.

A New York Post story provides additional details. It says Torres, who is to get a little less than four years, under a plea bargain, admitted authorizing bank tellers to cash phony refund checks on a near-daily basis.

The other two face maximum prison terms of five years when they are sentenced, although it appears likely they will get less time.

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