Posted by By ALEX VEIGA on
Authorities unsealed a grand jury indictment Tuesday that charges a Nigerian man with multiple counts of identity theft and other crimes in connection with personal information stolen from consumer data collector ChoicePoint Inc
* Nigerian Man Facing New Charges of Identity Theft in Stolen ChoicePoint Information
The indictment, returned by a grand jury in Los Angeles last week, accuses Olatunji Oluwatosin of 22 counts of identity theft, conspiracy, grand theft and credit card fraud, prosecutors said.
The scheme cost at least $4 million in damages and involved 16 victims and five banks or credit card companies, District Attorney Steve Cooley said.
The new indictment supersedes a previous one that charged Oluwatosin, 42, with six counts of identity theft, conspiracy and grand theft. He pleaded not guilty to those charges earlier this month.
Oluwatosin is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges on Sept. 7.
In mid-February, Alpharetta, Ga.-based ChoicePoint Inc., disclosed that thieves posing as small business customers gained access to its database, possibly compromising the personal information of some 145,000 people. The company, which sells data to government agencies and insurance companies, discovered the breach in late September 2004.
The investigation led to Oluwatosin's arrest in October.
Oluwatosin pleaded no contest in February to one felony count of identity theft and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
According to the latest indictment, beginning in January 2002, "unknown conspirators" opened mail drops and business accounts with ChoicePoint in order to access the company's database.
Oluwatosin allegedly made payments on some of the ChoicePoint accounts and was found to have keys for some of the mailboxes. Investigators also found cell phones and three credit cards that belonged to other people.
In all, personal data on more than 1,500 people was accessed, with some of the information ultimately used to set up new credit accounts or gain access to existing ones, prosecutors said.
Cooley said the scheme caused loses of nearly $2 million for ChoicePoint, while Bank of America Corp., Citibank, Bank One, Household Bank and Discover lost $2 million.
In a related case, a second Nigerian national, Kabiru Olatunde Ipaye, 43, was charged with receiving stolen property, access fraud, possessing a forged driver's license and other crimes, prosecutors said.