Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Data thief faces more charges and years in prison

Out-Law News | 02 Sep 2005 | 11:21 am | 1 min. read

A man convicted in connection with a privacy breach at data broker firm ChoicePoint has been indicted on 22 new charges, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday.

Advert: Data Protection, Update sessions 2005. September: London, Manchester. October: GlasgowOlatunji Oluwatosin, 42, from North Hollywood, was sentenced in February to 16 months in prison for his involvement in the fraudulent accessing of ChoicePoint's massive credit database, which is normally used by businesses such as credit reference agencies, marketing agencies and insurance firms.

ChoicePoint discovered the breach in October but, on police instructions, kept this quiet until February, when it notified around 148,000 customers that their information might have been accessed.

At the time the company warned that the fraudsters, who posed as legitimate companies to gain access to the database, may have seen consumers' names, addresses, Social Security numbers and credit reports. Prosecutors now say that over 1,500 people were actually affected by the breach, with their stolen information being used to access existing accounts or create new ones.

According to District Attorney Steve Cooley, losses to ChoicePoint are almost $2 million, while losses to the Bank of America, Citibank, Bank One, Household Bank and Discover from linked schemes are $2 million.

Oluwatosin was arrested in February and pleaded guilty to one count of identity theft. However, investigations have continued and Oluwatosin has now also been charged with: one count of conspiracy to commit computer access fraud; five counts of grand theft; 14 counts of identity theft; and two counts of credit card access fraud.

"The 22-count Grand Jury indictment unsealed today represents one of the largest cases of identity theft ever prosecuted in Los Angeles County," said Cooley.

The indictment alleges that beginning on 3rd Jan 2002, someone set up mail drops in Beverly Hills, North Hollywood, Encino, North Hills and West Hollywood, creating bogus businesses and then accessing ChoicePoint to search for the personal information of thousands of victims.

Oluwatosin allegedly made payments on some ChoicePoint accounts, possessed postal box keys for a mailbox associated with an account and possessed contact phones used as contact points for the ChoicePoint Accounts and to access some victims' credit accounts.

He faces a further 22 years in prison if convicted.

A related but separate case has also been filed against another Nigerian national, 43-year-old Kabiru Olatunde Ipaye. He is charged with receiving stolen property, access fraud, possessing a forged driver's license and other counts, according to LA prosecutors.

The cases are apparently related because personal information taken from ChoicePoint was used at mail drops associated with Ipaye.